Arizona awaits ruling on same-sex marriage ban

Couples have challenged Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban and are awaiting a key ruling. Until then, they have limited options.

The Arizona Republic reports that several couples have challenged Arizona's same-sex marriage ban, and are now awaiting a potential landmark ruling by the federal Court of Appeals.

In 2008, Arizona became one of a handful of states to add an amendment to its state constitution that defined a marriage as between one woman and one man. This amendment effectively barred same-sex couples from marrying, as these types of relationships fell outside of the new constitutional definition.

Same-sex couples have challenged these bans in other states, and a number of courts have ruled that the bans are unconstitutional. Most recently, the 10 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that bans on same-sex marriage were illegal in Utah and Oklahoma. Although many of these rulings will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, they indicate a clear shift in the legal rights of same-sex couples nationwide. Right now, 19 states allow such couples the right to marry.

Rights of same-sex couples in Arizona

One argument same-sex couples make in support of their right to marry is that they should be afforded all the same benefits and privileges that married men and women enjoy. Although the right of same-sex couples in Arizona to marry continues to be the subject of major legal battles, these couples are not entirely without some rights afforded by the law.

Since 2008, Arizona has offered benefits for the same-sex partners of state workers, including health insurance coverage. In 2009, legislators attempted to strip partners of this right through a statute that made them ineligible to receive benefits. However, a number of state employees who had same-sex partners challenged the measure, and a federal district court issued an injunction against the law. This measure and the injunction continue to be challenged in court, but in the interim, same-sex partners of state employees are still eligible to receive a number of benefits.

Additionally, some cities in Arizona have voted to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples. These unions are not the same as marriages, but they do have a legal effect and are a way for same-sex couples to have their unions recognized by the state. In Bisbee, for instance, the city council voted to approve an ordinance allowing for same-sex civil unions in June 2013. A few days later, Tucson approved a similar ordinance approving civil unions. Since that time, four other cities have approved civil unions and several others are considering similar measures - and in one city, Camp Verde, an ordinance was narrowly defeated.

Despite these small steps forward, same-sex couples in Arizona still do not enjoy nearly the same rights as those in legally recognized marriages. This can make it difficult for couples to visit one another in the hospital, receive insurance benefits or act as power of attorney for one another. If you are in a same-sex relationship and want to make sure you and your partner are protected, consider working with an experienced family law attorney in Phoenix.

Keywords: same-sex, marriage