October 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Arizona won’t appeal marriage equality ruling
Tom Horne, Arizona, gay news, Washington Blade

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne won’t appeal a ruling in favor of Arizona’s marriage equality. (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The state of Arizona won’t appeal a ruling against its ban on same-sex marriage, Attorney General Tom Horne announced on Friday.

“I have decided not to appeal today’s decision, which would be an exercise in futility and which would serve only the purpose of wasting taxpayer’s money,” Horne said.

That means same-sex marriage will unequivocally come to Arizona without delay, raising the tally of states where gay couples can marry to 31 as well as D.C.

Horne, a Republican, made the announcement during a news conference just hours after U.S. District Judge John Sedwick struck down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage. The attorney general said he opted not to appeal because of precedent established by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and actions by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The probability of the Ninth Circuit reversing today’s district court decision,” Horne said. “The probability of the United States Supreme Court accepting review of the Ninth Circuit decision is also zero. Therefore, the only purpose that would be served by filing another appeal would be to waste the taxpayer’s money.”

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of the LGBT group Freedom to Marry, said upon the announcement from the attorney general the Arizona ruling adds to the momentum for marriage equality.

“Today’s ruling in Arizona affirms what nearly every court in the past year has held: loving and committed same-sex couples are guaranteed the freedom to marry by the U.S. Constitution,” Solomon said. “It is time for the courts to finish the job and end marriage discrimination throughout the land.”

In his remarks, Horne said he intends to issuing a letter to the 15 county clerks of court instructing them to issue licenses immediately to same-sex couples. In Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, Horne said he’s told 10 same-sex couples were already present awaiting marriage licenses and would receive them immediately after the news conference. Because Arizona has no waiting period after obtaining a marriage license, those weddings could proceed as soon as today.

Maricopa County Clerk Michael Jeanes delivered a message via Twitter following the news conference welcoming same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses at his office.

Although Horne won’t appeal the decision, he said he shares the opposition to the court ruling already expressed by Gov. Jan Brewer, who put out a statement against the decision.

“Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas,” Brewer said. “It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that same-sex marriages should be allowed. Historically and traditionally, that power belongs to the states, and to the people. If society wants to recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, that decision should be made through our elected representatives or at the ballot – not the courts.”

But Horne said during the news conference that Brewer agrees with his decision not to appeal the ruling. Brewer’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request to verify the two officials were in agreement on the decision.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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