News (USA)

Arizona: Judge should delay gay marriage because 9th Circuit hasn’t issued mandate

PHOENIX — State lawyers renewed their defense of Arizona’s gay marriage ban Thursday with a brief that urged a federal judge to uphold it.

ArizonaThe filing starts the clock on a court ruling that many expect will soon lead to same-sex marriages in Arizona.

In the brief, state lawyers said District Judge John Sedwick shouldn’t overturn the ban because the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hasn’t issued a blanket mandate that would legalize gay marriage across the West.

Sedwick set the state’s Thursday deadline for any filings in a case that challenges Arizona’s ban on same-sex unions after the 9th Circuit Court ruled last week that struck down bans elsewhere in its jurisdiction as violations of due process and equal protection rights.

Sedwick is hearing two lawsuits challenging Arizona’s gay marriage ban and has said it appears the appeals court ruling means Arizona’s ban also is unconstitutional.

Gay marriage supporters filed a supporting brief Wednesday to bolster their argument that Sedwick should immediately strike down Arizona’s ban.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers in one of the two lawsuits wrote that same-sex marriages are now being performed and recognized in many states and that the same should be true in Arizona.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has said he expects Sedwick to rule by the end of the week. Horne added that he expects to take at least the weekend to review the decision.

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“Once he decides, I’ll have to decide whether to appeal or not to appeal,” Horne said. “And that will be based purely on a legal analysis without any consideration of policy issues.”

Arizona legislators approved a state law barring same-sex marriages in 1996. Seven years later, an Arizona appeals court upheld the constitutionality of the law. Voters in 2008 added the ban to the Arizona Constitution.

Seven couples who live in Arizona have challenged it.

The 9th Circuit ruled on Oct. 7 that gay marriage prohibitions in Nevada and Idaho violated the equal-protection rights of same-sex couples.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from several states seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage.

The plaintiffs’ brief is here, and the state’s filing is here.

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