By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com July 27 2014 12:34 PM ET
Attorneys defending Arizona's marriage ban for same-sex couples claim the law was not instituted out of malice, but as a means to protect the marriages of heterosexual couples and their children.
The state hired lawyers from the antigay organization, the Alliance Defending Freedom, to defend the marriage ban in two lawsuits. The organization has led the defenses in other marriage cases in Oklahoma and Virginia, according to The Arizona Republic. They filed the final arguments for one case last week.
The ADF lawyers say the marriage bans reinforce the strength of marriages for straight couples, and their children. The lawyers' arguments claim the state "regulates marriage for the primary purpose of protecting relationships that would produce children, and let those children grow up with a biological mother and father," The Republic reports.
"That's been the understood definition of marriage," Caleb Dalton of the ADF said to The Repubilc. "The recent laws that the plaintiffs have challenged didn't change anything. They merely reaffirmed that definition."
They also say that in five states where marriage equality had become legal, marriage rates dropped from 2010 to 2011, and the divorce rate went up in Massachusetts (which established legal marriage equality in 2004).
Meanwhile, 15,000 same-sex couples lived in Arizona as of the 2010 Census, according to Freedom to Marry.
The plaintiffs in the case filed last week, Connolly v. Roche, include two same-sex couples seeking recognition of their marriages, which took place in states with marriage equality laws, and two others who wish to marry in their home state. Two of the couples have adopted children through Arizona's foster care system, according to Freedom to Marry.
The other case, Majors v. Horne, involves seven same-sex couples, and the surviving spouses of two other couples. Those couples are also seeking relationship recognition by challenging the state's laws barring marriage for same-sex couples. Summmary judgement in that case is due August 1, the state must reply by September 5, and the final reply is due October 6.