Lambda Legal urges federal judge to strike down Arizona gay marriage ban


PHOENIX — Lambda Legal on Wednesday urged a federal court judge in Phoenix to issue an immediate ruling striking down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage.

ArizonaThe filing follows last Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down gay marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho, which came just a day after the announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court denying review of seven marriage lawsuits from the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuits that had struck down similar bans in Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah.

Following that action, state officials from West Virginia and Colorado announced that they, too, would no longer prevent same-sex couples from marrying and federal judges have subsequently struck down bans in North Carolina and Alaska.

Last week, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick said in an order that the parties in the federal challenge to Arizona’s ban could submit briefs discussing the 9th Circuit ruling that gay marriage prohibitions violate the equal protection rights of same-sex couples.

Arizona is part of the 9th Circuit, and Sedwick said the appellate court’s ruling in Idaho and Nevada apparently “controls the outcome” of the Arizona case.

The 9th Circuit’s ruling “appears to require” that Sedwick allow gay couples to marry, the judge said in a one-paragraph order. He gave the sides until Oct. 16 to file responses.

The lead plaintiffs in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit, Majors v. Jeanes, filed this past March, are Nelda Majors, 75, and Karen Bailey, 74, of Scottsdale, have been together for more than 57 years.

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“Nelda and Karen have been waiting since the Eisenhower Administration; the time is now. None of these loving and committed couples should have to wait even one day longer for the equal treatment that the Constitution promises.” Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jennifer C. Pizer said in a statement.

“The indelible writing is on the wall,” said Pizer. “Equality plus liberty add up to marriage for same-sex couples here in Arizona, too.”

In a September ruling in another pending challenge to Arizona’s gay marriage ban, Sedwick said the surviving spouse of a plaintiff who had died could be listed on the death certificate. In that decision, Sedwick signaled that Arizona’s ban was unlikely to hold up to a constitutional challenge.

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