AZCentral: Will AZ same-sex marriage ban be the next to fall?

Story by EJ Montini 

People like Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy must sense the water draining from the moat, the drawbridge slowly being lowered, the walls around their prejudice crumbling.

It’s only a matter of time before Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage is struck down by the courts.

The public is ahead of lawmakers on this. Our children and grandchildren are going to wonder what took us so long.

On Tuesday a federal district court judge tossed Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III said in his decision, “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

And, in case you’re wondering, Jones was appointed in 2002 by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

He also wrote, “The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection,” ending on the hopeful note that “in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.”

It won’t take multiple generations.

It will happen in this generation. In our time. Soon.

The day before Jones’s decision came a federal judge struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Oregon.

In Arizona, the battle is being waged on several fronts. Seven same-sex couples and the surviving spouses of two others have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Arizona’s ban. That lawsuit, organized by the national gay-rights organization Lambda Legal and Phoenix-based law firm Perkins Coie, is in addition to a similar lawsuit filed by four other Arizona couples.

The lawyer in the latter case, Shawn Aiken, told me, “Some people also say this is a religious thing, but it’s not. No church will ever be required to perform a ceremony for a same-sex couple. But they should have the same rights as any other couple to have a legally-binding civil ceremony, or one in a church that welcomes them. That’s not just good for them. It would be good for all of us.”

It would.

Because as Judge Jones wrote, “We are better people than what these laws represent…”