Arizona Is Latest State to Toss Out Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Updated on

A federal judge declared Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in the latest decision striking down such state laws after the U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped the dispute.

The state said it won’t appeal and marriage licenses will be issued immediately.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick in Phoenix ruled yesterday that almost identical provisions against such unions in Nevada and Idaho were declared invalid by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco because they denied constitutionally guaranteed equal protection of the law.

“This court is bound by the precedent set” by the appeals court, wrote Sedwick, who issued a permanent injunction upholding his decision. His order was posted today on the court’s electronic docket.

State Attorney General Tom Horne said he won’t appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, because it has “ruled against us” in other cases and the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected appeals.

“The decision I make today has to be based on legal considerations rather than policy considerations,” Horne said in a statement. “I believe the first duty of the attorney general is to be a good lawyer.”

31 States

Sedwick’s ruling brings the number of gay-marriage states to 31, according to Freedom to Marry, a New York-based group that advocates for the right to wed. In another four states, federal appeals court rulings have set binding precedents likely to lead to legalization soon.

In eight other states. judges have struck down gay-marriage bans, with some decisions put on hold for appeals.

Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director, said the Arizona judge’s ruling “affirms what nearly every court in the past year has held,” that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

“It is time for the courts to finish the job and end marriage discrimination throughout the land,” Solomon said in a statement.

The case is Connolly v. Jeanes, 14-cv-00024, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).

(Updates with decision not to appeal in second paragraph.)
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