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Gay Couples File Lawsuit Challenging Arizona's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Gay Couples File Lawsuit Challenging Arizona's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
Stefano Bolognin via Wikimedia Commons

A group of same-sex couples have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage.

Several Arizona laws outlaw aspects of same-sex marriages in the state, including Proposition 102, passed by voters in 2008, which states that the only recognized marriages in the state are "a union of one man and one woman."

See also:
-Gay Marriage Group Stops Effort to Get "Equal Marriage" on Arizona Ballots

The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal, a pro-LGBT legal group, on behalf of seven same-sex Arizona couples, plus the surviving spouses from two more couples.

The lawsuit challenges the fact that Arizona law doesn't allow for marriage of same-sex couples, and the fact that out-of-state same-sex marriages aren't recognized.

The lawsuit alleges that the state laws violate the couples' constitutional rights of equal protection under the law, and due process under the law.

The lawsuit points out that same-sex couples in Arizona miss out on more than just a state-sanctioned ceremony. They don't have the same protection as married couples for financial reasons like tax exemptions, nor do they have the same legal recognition for purposes of adoptions, nor do they receive benefits as a family member of an armed-forces veteran, nor do they have care-taking decisions in the case of disaster, nor do they have the same rights to inherit their partner's estate, nor the privilege to not testify against their spouse, among several other legal protections that are afforded to different-sex couples.

The lead plaintiffs, Nelda Majors, 75, and Karen Bailey, 74, of Scottsdale, have been together for more than 55 years, and they've had to worry about several of the aforementioned differences, especially as they've raised two children, now ages 15 and 21.

Majors said the following in a statement issued by Lambda Legal:

Karen and I have been together since 1957. We're a committed, loving family, have raised two amazing girls together, have seen each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health. After five decades together, we want to celebrate and affirm our deep love for each other as other couples do, before our friends and family, through marriage. We're also getting up there in years. I want to know that, should anything happen to me, there would be no question about Karen being allowed to be with me at the hospital, and vice versa. If we were married, there would be no question and we both would feel more secure.

The lawsuit -- which you can read here -- details some of the problems each of the same-sex couples have run into due to their inability to have a recognized marriage in Arizona.

"Arizona's ban on marriage for same-sex couples serves no legitimate state interest, brands these loving couples and their children as second-class citizens, and encourages private bias and discrimination," Lambda Legal attorney Jennifer Pizer says in a statement. "And because the State does not even offer a lesser status such as civil union or domestic partnership, these loving couples live every day with the uncertainty that their families and relationships lack even basic protections."

And, yet again, we'll tell you that you'll never guess which lobbying organization pushed that proposition banning same-sex marriage in Arizona: the Center for Arizona Policy.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.


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