Federal Judge Tosses Arizona’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Into History’s Trashcan


A federal judge today ruled Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, paving the way for gay couples in the state to tie the knot legally.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick’s decision throws out both a 1996 state law and a 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment that prohibited gay marriage.

Related: An Interactive Marriage Equality Map Of The United States

The verdict was something of a foregone conclusion after last week, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals—of which Arizona is part—determined that marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho were unconstitutional.

Judge Sedwick denied any request for a stay, saying “it is clear that an appeal to the 9th Circuit would not succeed. It is also clear … that the High Court will turn a deaf ear on any request for relief from the 9th Circuit’s decision.”

Of course Republican Attorney General Tom Horne says he might appeal anyway, and has instructed county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until he makes up his mind. Because why not be a sore loser?

Attorneys representing the state argued that a ban on equal marriage “furthers the state’s interest in connecting a child to his or her biological mother and father”  and insisted that the rights of voters to define marriage outweighed the civil liberties of LGBT Arizonans.

But proponents of equality are taking their victory lap: “Some of our couples have been waiting decades,” said Lambda Legal attorney Jennifer Pizer, who was representing the plaintiffs. “Their happy day has come, and we hope that Arizona embraces this decision and allows same sex couples to enjoy their constitutional rights here in Arizona.”

study earlier this year out of UCLA found that marriage equality would bring $60 million to Arizona’s economy and support the creation of at least 500 new jobs.

Today’s ruling brings marriage equality to 31 states and the District of Columbia.




Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.