Equality Group Calls on Tom Horne to Step Aside, Stop Defending State's Gay-Marriage Ban

Local marriage equality advocates are calling on Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to step aside and stop defending the state's ban on gay marriage.

Why Marriage Matters Arizona delivered more than 5,100 signed petitions to the Attorney General's office yesterday. "The petition calls on him to stop standing on the wrong side of history and stop standing in the way of allowing loving, committed couples to marry," says Jeremy Zegas, project director for the organization.

See also: -Legal Same-Sex Marriages in Arizona Could Take Place by Year's End Due to Ruling The delivery comes on the heels of an eventful week in the fight for (and against) gay marriage.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on marriage cases coming out of several federal circuits. And on Tuesday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals--the San Francisco-based court that has jurisdiction over Arizona--ruled that gay marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho were unconstitutional.

The attorneys on one local cases challenging Arizona's ban, Connolly v. Roche, filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to decide quickly whether the Ninth Circuit's decision will apply in Arizona. Sedwick gave both sides seven days to make their case as to why the circuit court's decision should or should not apply in the state. These filings will be due next Thursday.

Sedwick has suggested that he thinks the Ninth Circuit's decision will apply. If he does rule in favor of overturning Arizona's gay marriage ban, the state could still appeal that decision. But for that appeal, it would have to turn to the Ninth Circuit, the very court that overturned such bans this week.

Instead, Zegas and other gay-marriage supporters are asking Horne to give up the fight. Attorney generals in several other states have stopped defending their state's gay marriage bans. West Virginia's attorney general joined that list just yesterday.

Horne's office did not immediately return a request for comment. In a statement on Monday, he said, "We will continue to defend the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's marriage laws unless and until a controlling judicial decision deems those laws unconstitutional."

Zegas wishes this wasn't the case. "It could mean waiting longer. It's legal maneuvering at this point," he says. "Obviously the clearest path to couples being married would be for the attorney general to simply step aside and stop defending the indefensible."

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Ashley Cusick
Contact: Ashley Cusick