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Class-action lawsuit challenges Arizona marriage equality ban

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Four Arizona same-sex couples filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal district court seeking to invalidate the state’s ban on marriage equality, KTAR reports:

The suit, which names Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Attorney General Tom Horne and County Clerk Michael Jeanes as defendants, was filed by attorneys Shawn and Ellen Aiken. It claimed that a voter-approved ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

“The plaintiffs are asking that the court strike or reverse Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage,” said Shawn Aiken. “Right now, the state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage.”

The suit would allow same-sex couples to be married and would recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states.

“I think it is a game-changer in Arizona,” said Aiken. “I think most people expect that this issue will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Two of the couples named as plaintiffs in the suit were married in California.  One of the other couples–Suzanne Cummins and Holly Mitchell–adopted two children, but “given the statutory and policy obstacles same-sex couples face in Arizona,” as the brief puts it, Mitchell has no legal rights in regard to her adopted children.

In addition to the four named couples, the suit also proposes a plaintiff class consisting of “all those who … wish to marry someone of the same sex, and who are for that reason alone denied the right to marry by Arizona law” and “all those who … reside in the State of Arizona and have legally married one another under the laws and procedures of another state, but to someone of the same sex, and whose marriage for that reason alone is not recognized as valid under Arizona law.”

The plaintiffs’ complaint makes constitutional claims under the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause, asking for a permanent injunction barring the enforcement of Arizona’s marriage equality ban.

Intriguingly, the complaint notes that the Supreme Court is likely to decide the marriage equality question nationwide at some point, but still asks for relief in the interim: “It is widely expected that the Supreme Court will eventually resolve this issue.  Until that decision, Plaintiffs seek this Court’s declaration that the U.S. Constitution bars Arizona from the same discriminatory conduct that the Windsor court declared unconstitutional.”

Arizona falls under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which currently has two other marriage equality cases–one from Nevada and one from Hawaii–pending before it.  It is possible that a decision in the Nevada case (the Hawaii one is likely to be dismissed) could make the Arizona litigation moot.

The Arizona challenge is called Connolly v. Brewer.  You can read the full complaint below, via Scribd (h/t to Kathleen).

[scribd id=196787441 key=key-39tgximsuthd7psrvas mode=scroll]

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  • 1. Straight Ally #3008  |  January 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    This reminds me of all the lower court rulings that declared DOMA unconstitutional, and we see what happened with that. Just didn't think it would move so fast, at least on the legal time scale. 2014 could be quite momentous.

  • 2. peterplumber  |  January 7, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Great job in jeeping up with all these cases & providing the ack up documentationas well. Thanks for yur conribution!

  • 3. Dr. Z  |  January 8, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Utah AG Reyes will issue his opinion today on whether the State believes the SSM licenses are valid during the appeal to the 10th Circuit.

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