Definition of of marriage in Arizona prior to 2014-OCT-17:
Arizona statutes recognized only marriages between one woman and one man since 1966.
The voters passed an amendment to the state Constitution banning marriage of same-sex couples in 2008. 1
2012 to 2013: Public opinion poll shows strong support for recognition of same-sex couples:
Public Policy Polling conducted a poll in 2012-MAY. They found that:
77% of voters are in favor of the state recognizing same-sex relationships through marriage or a civil union. This included.
94% of Democrats,
63% of Republicans,
83% of Independents,
79% of Hispanics, and
85% of other racial minorities. 2
Rocky Mountain Poll released their polling results during 2013-MAY. They asked simply whether the voter supported or opposed same-sex marriage. They found that:
55% of Arizona voters favored same-sex marriage.
35% of voters were opposed. 3
The 2013 data almost exactly match results of national polls held that year.
A margin of 20 percentage points is impressive. If the 2008 constitutional amendment to Arizona's Constitution were voted upon today, it would almost certainly be soundly defeated.
2014: Two lawsuits filed:
On 2014-JAN-06, four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Arizona titled Connolly v. Jeans. Three additional plaintiff couples were added later.
On 2014-MAR-13, seven couples filed a second lawsuit, Majors v. Horne in the same court.
Both cases have two goals: allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state, and requiring Arizona to recognize legal marriages solemnized by same-sex couples out-of-state. 1
2014-OCT: The second try to attain marriage equality succeeds:
On 2014-OCT-07, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and six other states ¬ ruled in favor¬ of marriage equality in Nevada and Idaho. This made the principle of marriage equality binding throughout the Circuit Court's nine states.
Early on Friday, 2014-OCT-17, federal District Court Judge John Sedwick released a single ruling in the above two cases. As with dozens of other federal and state court decisions since mid-2013, Judge Sedwick's ruling was based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He did not issue a stay in his ruling. Same-sex couples started to marry almost immediately.
Kevin Patterson and David Lawrence were among the first same-sex couples to respond. They obtained their marriage license in Phoenix on Friday, and were quickly married outside the county clerk's office.
A few hours after the ruling was released, Attorney General Tom Horne announced that he would not appeal the U.S. District Court ruling.
He wrote a letter to County Clerks saying that:
"... Arizona courts can no longer treat marriage exclusively as 'a union of one man and one woman' under Article 30 of the Arizona Constitution. The court has determined that both Article 30 and Section 25-101(C) of the Arizona Revised Statuses are invalid under the Equal protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to the extent that those laws prohibit or treat as void marriage between persons of the same sex.
Accordingly, and effective immediately, the clerks of Arizona county Superior Courts cannot deny a marriage license to any otherwise eligible licensees on the ground that the license permits a marriage between two persons of the same sex." 4
With the Attorney General's decision, Arizona became the st state to attain marriage equality.
Reactions to the District Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriages:
One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Dan Barr, said of the U.S. Supreme Court's future activities:
"I can't conceive of them overturning gay marriages that have now occurred all over the country. The Supreme Court would not have done what they've done ... [unless] that's what they were going to eventually do."
Another of the plaintiffs' attorneys. Shawn Aiken, issued a statement saying:
"These couples from across Arizona bravely stood for equality for themselves, their families and over 21,000 other gay and lesbian couples living in Arizona today. Allowing my clients to marry causes no harm to heterosexual married couples or anyone else."
The Rev. Eric Ledermann, pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Tempe, AZ who attended Horne's news conference, headed immediately to the San Tan and San Marcos courthouses in Chandler so that he could preside over marriages. He said that District Attorney Horne:
"lost with dignity. ... I never thought this day would come. I'm fairly new to Arizona, and my impression is that Arizona doesn't jump onto these bandwagons quickly. I just didn't think it would come ‚Ä" I didn't think we'd be able to move this quickly."
One of the plaintiff couples, Karen Bailey and Nelda Majors of Scottsdale, AZ, were among the first to obtain a license. They have been together for over 56 years and had been careful to hide their loving, committed relationship, even from their children. Nelda Majors, 76, said:
"I have no words to express how I feel. It's wonderful."
Another two women were the first same-sex couple to obtain a marriage licenses at the Maricopa County San Tan Justice Court in Chandler, AZ. They remained anonymous to reporters out of fear of job discrimination. One of them said only:
"I feel bad because we're so proud, but we can't take any chances."
Peg Miller and Kas Page of Congress, AZ were married on Friday afternoon. Kas Page eloquently said:
"We've been together 22 years. You pray for this for so long, but when it happens you just can't believe it. This marriage is not about commitment, because we committed to each other 22 years ago. This is about acceptance and having equal rights under the law as an American citizen."
"I'm just overwhelmed with emotion. I didn't think we'd see this in our lifetime." 5