Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Arizona

Attorney General Tom Horne has given the green-light for same-sex marriage in Arizona, saying that the first ceremony could be completed before lunchtime today.

Horne insisted he disagreed with the federal judge's ruling that ordered an end to enforcing Arizona's laws against same-sex marriage. However, given recent court decisions, Horne said his "chances are zero" in successfully appealing the ruling, and said giving it up was the only real choice he had.

"I fought it as far as I ethically could," Horne says.

Horne says this morning he will be e-mailing the county clerks of court around the state, telling them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Michael Jeanes, the Maricopa County Clerk, seems to have received the memo:

Horne says that there were already 10 same-sex couples at the Maricopa County Clerk's office this morning waiting to get marriage licenses. Since there is no waiting period for marriage in Arizona, these can start taking place today.

Horne adds that he's not immediately sure of how this decision affects other laws that discriminate against same-sex couples, like the state law that gives adoption preference to marriages involving one man and one woman.

This sudden change in Arizona's laws governing same-sex marriages is the result of another case in federal court.

According to U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick's ruling that Arizona's ban is unconstitutional, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals "recently ruled that substantially identical provisions of Nevada and Idaho law that prohibit same-sex marriages are invalid because they deny same-sex couples equal protection of the law, the right to which is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States."

The federal court that's hearing Arizona's case is bound to the decisions of that appellate court, which means Arizona's bans are struck down.

"A stay of this decision to allow defendants to appeal is not warranted," Sedwick's order states. "It is clear that an appeal to the Ninth Circuit would not succeed. It is also clear--based on the Supreme Court's denial of petitions for writs of certiorari filed in connection with several circuit court decisions which held that same-sex marriage must be recognized in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin--that the High Court will turn a deaf ear on any request for relief from the Ninth Circuit's decision."

This ruling overturns two Arizona laws -- one is a ban on same-sex marriages passed by the Legislature, and another is an amendment to the Arizona Constitution, which was passed by voters, that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

UPDATE 11:25 p.m.: The City of Phoenix has a place to hold ceremonies, according to Mayor Greg Stanton.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

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

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