Gay marriage appeal in Arizona supreme court
May 26 2004 12:00 AM ET
An appeal of Arizona's gay marriage ban is being considered by the state supreme court on Tuesday, but it is still uncertain whether the court will decide to hear arguments in the case. The case involves Don Standhardt and Tod Keltner, who were denied a marriage license last July by a superior court clerk. The Arizona court of appeals has already ruled that court clerks acted properly in refusing a marriage license. In the Phoenix couple's appeal to the supreme court, they argue that the justices should hear the case because barring same-sex couples from civil marriage is in violation of state constitutional rights of privacy and equal treatment.
Although the case is on the supreme court's agenda, it's no sure thing that the court will agree to rule on the issue. And if the court does accept jurisdiction, oral arguments in the case could be months away. Court watchers say they doubt the justices will take on the case because the lower court's decision was extremely detailed. In its ruling the court of appeals held that there is no fundamental constitutional right to same-sex marriage. It found that the state has a rational basis for prohibiting same-sex marriages because of goals related to procreation and child rearing. Arguing that the ban was based on legislative policies and not discrimination, the attorney general's office has urged the supreme court to allow the court of appeals ruling to stand.
Others claim that different motivating factors are involved. "The legislature here is a huge threat to the court system, and they all know that," said Wally Straughn, an openly gay legislator who sits on the house judiciary committee. "I'm afraid that what they will do is just not hear [the case], as their safe way out."