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Ash and Amber are Getting Married! (Judge Sedwick Says So)

arizona gay marriage

This is the wedding announcement to the world that our kind, smiling, infinitely patient IT person Ash is getting married. She and Amber have been together seven years and they had the wedding planned anyway, in San Diego, but now Judge Sedwick has impliedly blessed it. Ash, with the calm but no nonsense demeanor. Ash, of the "did you try rebooting already" school of business. Ash and Amber. In a four page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick has changed their lives.

Judge Sedwick ruled that Arizona's ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional and refused to grant a stay. His decision is a grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs in Nelda Majors, et al. v. Tom Horne, et al., 2:14-cv-00518.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/243344773/AZ-Gay-Marriage-Document. Judge Sedwick finds that, given recent developments in the law of the Ninth Circuit, oral argument "would not be of assistance to court." The order provides minimal factual background, other than explaining that the plaintiffs include (1) same-sex couples who were married in another jurisdiction and seek to have Arizona recognize their marriages; (2) same-sex couples who wish to wed in Arizona; and (3) an organization that represents the interests of same-sex couples. At issue are statutes and provisions of the Arizona Constitution that define marriage as between a male and female and that provide that same-sex marriage is prohibited in Arizona.

Citing the recent Ninth Circuit decision that substantially identical provisions of Nevada and Idaho law that prohibit same-sex marriages are invalid as violations of the equal protection clause, and noting that it is "bound by decisions of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit," the Court determined that "plaintiffs are entitled to a declaration that the challenged laws are unconstitutional together with a permanent injunction prohibiting enforcement of the challenged laws." Judge Sedwick refused to grant a stay because, as he said, "it is clear that an appeal to the Ninth Circuit would not succeed." In perhaps the most astounding sentence of the ruling, the District Court judge said that, based on its recent denial of petitions for writs of cert filed as to other circuit decisions, "it is also clear…that the High Court will turn a deaf ear on any request for relief from the Ninth Circuit's decisions."

Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same sex-marriage in 2004. The country remains a patchwork of legislation and constitutional provisions. As of this writing, Arizona joins 30 states and the District of Columbia allow and recognize same-sex marriages; 20 states and two territories explicitly prohibit same-sex marriages.

As of this writing, Attorney General Tom Horne has announced that he will not appeal the ruling. Mazel Tov, Ash and Amber!

For more appellate law updates, visit Kathi's blog.


About the author: Kathi M. Sandweiss is an attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk PC. She is the head of the appellate law department and has represented many clients at the Arizona appellate courts.