Four same-sex couples filed a class action lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] on Monday, seeking to overturn the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer [official website] and state Attorney General Tom Horne [official website] are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Two of the four couples in the complaint were married legally in California, and two of the couples have adopted children. In 2003 the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld Arizona's statutory definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and in 2008 voters in the state passed [JURIST report] ballot amendment Proposition 102 [ballot description] to the state's constitution by a vote of 56-44 percent. The constitutional amendment precludes an Arizona court from overruling the state statute, and only a federal court ruling could overrule the constitution. The claimants' attorney, Shawn Aiken, believes now is the appropriate time to challenge the state of Arizona to recognize same-sex marriage.
The debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community. Two of Arizona's neighboring states, Utah and New Mexico, addressed the issue in recent weeks, and on Monday the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in Utah was temporarily blocked by the US Supreme Court after the Utah AG filed an application for stay [JURIST reports] with the court in the previous week. The AG's petition to the Supreme Court followed action in the US District Court for the District of Utah, where a federal judge rejected the requests from several lawyers to block the passing of same-sex marriage in the state after Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned [JURIST reports] in district court on December 20. One day prior to the ruling which allowed same-sex marriage in Utah, the state of New Mexico legalized [JURIST report] same-sex marriage.