Recognition of same-sex unions in Arizona

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Legal recognition of
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Same-sex marriage was constitutionally banned in 2008. However, a few Arizona cities and towns provide civil unions since 2013.

Same-sex marriage[edit]


In 1996, the Arizona state legislators passed a ban on same-sex marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriages performed outside of the state. Governor Fife Symington signed the bill into law.[1]

Constitutional ban[edit]

In November 2006, Proposition 107, which would have banned same-sex marriage and any legal status similar to marriage, was defeated by voters.

In November 2008, voters approved Proposition 102, which limits marriage to only a union of one man and one woman.

Initiative to repeal constitutional ban[edit]

On May 17, 2013, Equal Marriage Arizona filed an initiative to put an amendment on the 2014 election ballot which would replace the current marriage definition with a gender-neutral definition. 259,213 valid signatures are needed by July 3, 2014, to put the issue on the 2014 ballot.[2][3] The initiative was later suspended due to a lack of support from LGBT organizations.[4]

Federal lawsuits[edit]

There are currently two lawsuits regarding the recognition of same-sex marriage pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona:

Connolly v. Roche (Formerly Connolly v. Brewer)[edit]

On January 6, 2014, in Connolly v. Roche, four same-sex couples filed a class-action lawsuit in district court seeking to have Arizona's definition of marriage ruled unconstitutional. Two of the plaintiff couples were married in California and two have adopted children through Arizona's public foster-care system. The amended complaint names as defendants three county court clerks acting in their official capacities and adds two couples from the Flagstaff area and one couple from the Tucson area for a total of seven couples.[5]

Majors v. Horne[edit]

On March 13, Lambda Legal filed a suit in the same court on behalf of seven same-sex couples and a widow and a widower, each the surviving spouse of a same-sex couple. Several are the parents of minor children and most married in other states, including California, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Washington. The case is styled as Majors v. Horne, with the state's attorney general named as the lead defendant.[6]

State Court Action[edit]

Beatie v. Beatie[edit]

On August 13, 2014, Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona's constitutional and statutory bans on same sex marriage did not prevent the trial court from granting a divorce in a case in which one of the spouses was a transgendered individual and had been married in a jurisdiction which had recognized their marriage as consisting of the union of one man and one woman.[7]

Same-sex unions[edit]

Map of Arizona cities and counties that offer civil unions or domestic partner benefits in particular cities.
  City offers unions granting rights similar to marriage
  City offers legislation granting domestic partnership
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  State grants benefits to state employees
  No specific recognition of same-sex marriages or unions in state law

In late December 2008, a gay rights activist from the United Kingdom announced plans to place a civil partnership measure on the Arizona ballot, with the unions providing exactly the same rights as civil marriage. Polls indicated such a measure would have a high likelihood of passing. Equality Arizona, which opposes the "separate-but-equal" status of civil union, announced it was considering how to respond in 2010 to the passage of Arizona Proposition 102.[8]

There have been several other proposals to promote a voter initiative legalizing civil unions by both groups of private citizens[8][9] and government officials.[10]

State employee benefits[edit]

Arizona has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2008.[11] A 2009 statute made domestic partners of state employees ineligible for health benefits, but a group of state employees in same-sex relationships persuaded a federal District Court to issue an injunction preventing the law from taking effect. The statute and that injunction remain the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, Diaz v. Brewer.[12]

Local civil unions[edit]

On June 4, 2013, the Bisbee City Council approved an ordinance legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples; it took effect 30 days later.[13] Several other Arizona cities are considering similar civil union ordinances.[14] On June 19, 2013, the Tucson City Council unanimously approved a civil unions ordinance.[15]

On July 5, the first civil union was granted in Bisbee.[16]

The councils of several towns and cities followed Bisbee and Tucson in adopting a civil union ordinance: Jerome on July 30,[17] Sedona on September 24,[18] Clarkdale on November 12[19] and Cottonwood on December 17.[20] A proposal for such an ordinance failed in Camp Verde.[21]

Local domestic partnerships[edit]

The cities of Phoenix,[22] Scottsdale,[22] Tempe,[22] and Tucson,[22] along with Pima County[22] offer domestic partnerships.

Public opinion[edit]

A 2003 poll conducted by Northern Arizona University showed that 53% of Arizonans supported same-sex civil unions, though 54% oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry. However, 52% of Arizonans believe that same-sex marriages conducted abroad in regions where such unions are legal should be recognized as marriage in the state of Arizona.[23]

A November 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 44% of Arizona voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 45% opposed it and 12% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 72% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 40% supporting same-sex marriage, 32% supporting civil unions, 27% opposing all legal recognition and 1% not sure.[24]

An April 2013 Rocky Mountain poll found that 55% of Arizona voters supported same-sex marriage, 35% were opposed and 10% were unsure.[25]

A February 2014 PPP poll found that 49% thought same-sex marriage should be legal in Arizona, 41% did not and 10% were undecided.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gay marriage debate likely to play role in ’04 elections
  2. ^ "Initiative seeks to legalize gay marriage in Arizona". Arizona Daily Star. May 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ Equal Marriage Arizona
  4. ^ "Effort To Repeal Arizona's Gay Marriage Ban Suspended". On Top Magazine. September 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ Rau, Alia Beard (January 6, 2014). "Suit filed to allow same-sex marriages in Arizona". AZ Central. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ del Puerto, Luige (March 13, 2014). "Same-sex couples in Arizona file suit over state gay marriage bann". Reuters. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Effort to get same-sex civil unions on AZ ballot planned
  9. ^ Rainbow Foot Soldiers Statement: Arizona Civil Partnerships
  10. ^ Voice of the people
  11. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  12. ^ MetroWeekly: Chris Geidner, "Ninth Circuit Keeps Arizona Law Ending Same-Sex Partner Health Benefits on Hold," September 6, 2011, accessed July 8, 2012
  13. ^ "Bisbee council approves civil unions proposal". June 5, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Bisbee council advances new civil unions measure". May 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Tucson becomes second Arizona city to allow same-sex civil unions". LGBTQ Nation. June 19, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Bisbee Same Sex partners file for formal Civil Union". KGUN9. July 5, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Jerome approves civil unions". The Camp Verde Bugle. August 29, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Sedona approves local ordinance on civil unions". AZCentral. September 25, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Civil unions pass unanimously in Clarkdale". Verde Independent. November 13, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Cottonwood approves same-sex civil unions". KPHO. December 18, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Civil unions rejected by Camp Verde council". The Bulge. February 6, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b c d e Governments Offering Benefits
  23. ^ Gay and Lesbian Civil Unions Supported in Arizona; Same-Sex Couples Should Be Allowed Benefits
  24. ^ AZ pro-civil unions, remembers Goldwater fondly
  25. ^ Poll: Majority In Arizona Backs Gay Marriage
  26. ^ Arizona voters support Brewer veto, legalizing gay marriage