HOMOSEXUAL (SAME-SEX) MARRIAGES IN ARIZONA
As of 2003-JULY, same sex marriage is available for all gay and lesbian
couples, no matter what their citizenship in the provinces of
Ontario and British Columbia in Canada. It is also available to citizens of Belgium
and Netherlands, and will soon be available in England and Wales.
There was speculation that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts
was going to rule in favor of same-sex marriages in that state by the middle
of 2003-JULY. However, that ruling has been delayed. A ruling
from the court in New Jersey will come later.
In this essay, we will describe a lawsuit to legalize same-sex marriage in
Influence of U.S. Supreme Court decision:
In late 2003-JUN, the U.S.
Supreme Court handed down its decision in Lawrence v. Texas.
This case involved a Texan law which had criminalized certain sexual
behaviors by same-sex couples. The same behaviors were quite legal if
performed by a male and female adult. It was an unusually broad
ruling with many ramifications. Not only did it declare a Texas
anti-sodomy law unconstitutional, but it invalidated all remaining state
laws across the U.S. Further, it severely restricted the ability of
states to enforce morality through legislation. The minority report by
Justice Antonin Scalia warned that other lawsuits would build on the
Lawrence v. Texas decision. He wrote: "The court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual
agenda...The court has taken sides in the culture war....This reasoning leaves
on shaky, pretty shaky grounds, state laws limiting marriage to
opposite-sex couples." Justice Scalia
wrote that the majority Justices pretended that they have left enough freedom "so
that we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage, as has
recently occurred in Canada...Do not believe it...[The majority opinion]
dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction
to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal
recognition in marriage is concerned." More
details. His prediction may soon come to fruition.
2003-JUL-7: Special action filed:
On 2003-JUL-1, Harold Donald Standhardt, 34, and Tod Alan Keltner, 36 or 37
(sources differ), --
a gay couple -- applied for and were refused a marriage license. They filed a special action
on JUL-5 with the Arizona Court of Appeals,
asking that the state marriage law which restricts marriage to between one
man and one woman be declared unconstitutional. Defendants are the
State of Arizona and Michael K. Jeanes, the clerk of Maricopa County Superior Court
who refused to issue the license.
According to their lawsuit, Standhardt and Keltner "have been in [a] committed relationship for over six years and have lived
together and resided in Maricopa County for over five years." 1
They own a travel agency together. The lawsuit asserts that the 1996 ban on gay marriages violates
various state and federal constitutional protections, including the Arizona
Constitution's right to privacy. Standhardt commented: "We have the same basic rights as any other
Normally, lawsuits begin at a lower court and are later appealed to the Court
of Appeal. However, the latter court can accept lawsuits directly. They have
chosen to do so in this case.
This case joins others in Massachusetts and New Jersey which also seek to
expand the definition of marriage to include all committed, loving couples
-- both opposite-sex and same-sex. The Fundamentalist Christian legal
group, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), has filed a brief, arguing
that the plaintiffs "vastly exaggerate the significance of last month's
privacy ruling and notes the Supreme Court repeatedly has upheld marriage
as the union of one man and one woman." 2
"The plaintiffs claim that [Lawrence v. Texas]... Supreme
Court decision held that homosexuals have a 'privacy' right to marriage."
2 They also refer to a 2002 decision by the Arizona Supreme
Court in a case concerning state funding for abortions for poor women. The court
decided that the state could not enact laws that grant any citizen privileges
while denying them to others.
Kathleen McCarthy, a local lawyer and specialist in family-law
said she believes the Supreme Court decision will give a boost to the
lawsuits. She said: "It will ease the ability to challenge these
Kent Burbank, executive director of Wingspan -- a gay-positive group said:
"Many of us are concerned about the backlash." He added that a same-sex test
case should be carefully chosen so that it has the maximum chance of winning.
Attorney Len Munsil, president of The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP),
said: "We have said all along that gay marriage was the goal, and now there
is an effort to bring it to Arizona. Despite the Supreme Court’s claim to the
contrary, their decision in Lawrence will open the floodgates for this type of
litigation." 5 CAP is part of a 50-state partnership
associated with the Fundamentalist Christian group, Focus on the Family.
In an interview with the Tucson Observer, he said: "Marriage is not an
institution created by American law. It has multiple
thousands of years of being a relationship between a man and a woman. We're
looking at discarding that in one generation." 4
- "Ariz. gay couple sues to overturn marriage ban," Associated Press,
- "Razing Arizona," Washington Update, Family Research Council,
- Carol Sowers, "Suit challenges state law against gay marriage,"
AZCentral, 2003-JUL-15, at:
- "Lawsuit challenges Arizona's ban on gay marriage," Tucson
http://www.tucsonobserver.com/local.html#4 This appears to be a
- "Two men seek to be married in Arizona," News release, The
Center for Arizona Policy, 2003-JUL-14, at:
Copyright © 2003 by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2003-JUL-22
Author: B.A. Robinson