By Bruce Christian, Oct. 23, 2014.
Shortly after 7 a.m., Oct. 17, I received word U.S. District Court Judge John W. Sedwick had declared Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. A flurry of emails, tweets and Facebook postings followed from friends.
As I responded, liked and wrote some of my own, I felt my eyes fill with tears. The long battle swimming against the tide and fighting against inequality seems to be over. The enormity of the moment was overwhelming. It still is.
Yet one Facebook friend reminded me that Sedwick’s decision could still be stalled by Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne, should he request an emergency stay and appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.
I knew my friend was right. But I also wondered to my partner if Horne, who really lost the battle the day before when he admitted to Sedwick during his argument that Arizona’s law was unconstitutional, would reason further attempts to protect an amendment that permits discrimination was futile.
Then Horne called a morning press conference to respond to Sedwick’s ruling. I expected to hear him announce that he, with Gov. Brewer’s support, would file for an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court.
But he didn’t. He admitted he lost. He admitted appealing would be an exercise in futility. The battle for marriage equality in Arizona is over.
He, Cathi Herrod, the Center for Arizona Policy, Gov. Jan Brewer and other marriage equality opponents have lost. The LGBT community, our allies and those people who just never understood how voters could vote for discrimination aimed at one group of people have won.
Within an hour of the press conference, pictures began appearing online of men marrying men and women marrying women right here in the Grand Canyon State. Unbelievable!
I remember in the 1990s arguing at Echo staff meetings whether we, as a publication, should advocate for “civil unions” to placate those who didn’t want the word “married” to be linked with committed same-sex couples.
At first, it seemed like a reasonable compromise. It seemed like a way to emphasize to opponents that our battle was for the rights and privileges marriage brings, not just to be a thorn in their sides. We could call marriage civil unions, civil contracts, arrangements or Homer for that matter.
But then it occurred to me, bowing to marriage equality opponents on what our marriages should be called would continue to classify LGBT couples as “separate” from straight married couples. It wasn’t worth a compromise!
When other states began recognizing marriage equality, I purposely held out from running to a neighboring state for a ceremony, only to come home and be told it’s not valid. To me, my marriage — when it happens — would have to be valid in the state where I live.
So now it’s here, and after more than 34 years with my partner, I guess there will be a wedding. Where should it be? Who should we invite? How many of our friends and family should we invite? Details, details!
Maybe we can honeymoon in Ajo, Gila Bend, Greer or Overgaard?
Even as Arizona’s LGBT community celebrated Oct. 17, Horne, Herrod and Brewer attempted to mute our joy by continuing their anti-equality rhetoric. They also insist the Arizona prohibition on marriage equality is what Arizona voters want, and that judges shouldn’t be able to decide. I wonder when, in their minds, it is right for judges to decide on issues of equal protection and of an individual’s rights?
But their words now are like dust in the wind. They carry no weight. They are remnants of the past; and for all Arizona LGBT residents, the future is ours.
Bruce Christian is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]