On Friday, October 17th, love officially became the law of the land in Arizona, when in a press conference, Attorney General Tom Horne announced that the state would no longer defend Arizona’s marriage ban.
Earlier that day, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ruled that Arizona’s marriage ban was unconstitutional. The judge did not issue a stay, clearing the way for marriages to begin after Attorney General Horne—who previously said he would never stop defending Arizona’s marriage ban—made it official that the state would not appeal Sedwick’s ruling.
Horne, who is a Republican, made the announcement during a press conference where he said, “I have decided not to appeal today’s decision, which would be an exercise in futility and which would serve only the purpose of wasting taxpayer’s money.”
Just days before, Why Marriage Matters Arizona delivered more than 5,100 petitions calling on the Attorney General to not appeal a favorable ruling.
Judge Sedwick’s landmark ruling followed a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found Nevada and Idaho’s marriage bans unconstitutional. Because Arizona is also under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit ,Judge Sedwick argued that he was bound by the precedent set in the Idaho and Nevada rulings.
Today, loving and committed same-sex couples in Arizona are free to marry. This victory, which was a long time coming, was the result of the brave plaintiff couples, their amazing legal teams and the incredible supporters of Why Marriage Matters Arizona, who continued to make the case that the Grand Canyon State was ready for the freedom to marry.
Unfortunately, not all the plaintiffs would live to see the day when their marriage would be recognized in the state they called home. Fred McQuire and George Martinez were in a loving and committed relationship for more than 45 years when George tragically died of cancer, just a few short months before Arizona secured the freedom to marry. However, following his death, Judge Sedwick ruled that Arizona must respect their marriage so that George’s name could appear on Fred’s death certificate. Their marriage marked the first time Arizona recognized a legally married same-sex couple. Our sincerest condolences go out to Fred, who along with George, so bravely challenged Arizona’s marriage ban head on. We thank this incredible couple for their advocacy and strength in this fight.