Federal judge strikes down Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage

A federal judge on Oct. 17 issued a ruling striking down Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage, which paves the way for same-sex couples to get married in the western state.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick issued the ruling, ordering Arizona to "permanently cease" its ban on gay marriage. He did not issue a stay.

ACLU of Arizona executive director Alessandra Soler responded this afternoon, "Today's ruling brings security to thousands of families in Arizona. It's a moment to be celebrated. Equal protection of the law is one of the fundamental principles that allows our country to thrive and evolve. Dismantling this discriminatory ban brings our state and nation closer to our founding ideals of fairness, justice and liberty. We will continue to fight for equality for all Arizonans and oppose any efforts to unravel today's historic victory."

Soler continued, "Today we celebrate the court's recognition that every individual in Arizona has the freedom to marry the person they love. We hope that Attorney General Tom Horne will honor the court's ruling and allow marriage licenses to be issued immediately."

Gay couples in Phoenix began lining up at the courthouse to apply for licenses soon after learning of the court's decision. 

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement that federal courts have thwarted the will of voters and eroded the state's power to regulate.

The right-wing Republican said, "Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas. It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that same-sex marriages should be allowed."

The decision follows a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which said on Oct. 7 that gay marriage prohibitions in Nevada and Idaho violated the equal-protection rights of same-sex couples.

Also, last week the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from five states — including Wisconsin — seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage. On Oct. 17, the Justice Department said it would recognize same-sex marriages from those states.

There are now at least 30 states where same-sex marriage is legal.

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