Same-Sex Couples Sue Arizona

PHOENIX (CN) - Four couples claim in a federal class action that Arizona's ban on same-sex marriages violates their constitutional rights.
     Lead plaintiff Joseph Connolly sued Gov. Jan Brewer, Attorney General Tom Horne and Maricopa County Clerk Michael Jeanes, seeking declaratory judgment and an injunction.
     Arizona voters in 2008 amended the state Constitution to bar state recognition of same-sex marriages, and prohibit gay couples from marrying in the state.
     The plaintiffs claim the law imposes unconstitutional hardships.
     Joseph Connolly and Terrel Pochert say they were married in California, and that Arizona's refusal to recognize their marriage "harms them by denying them the rights, protections, and benefits associated with marriage, such as Terry's spousal pension benefits, other spousal survivorship rights, the right to loss-of-consortium damages in civil lawsuits, the privilege not to testify against one another, and so on."
     Plaintiffs Holly Mitchell and Suzanne Cummins say that though they were able to become certified foster care parents, only Cummins was allowed to adopt their two children because "Arizona law strongly prefers heterosexual couples in permanent adoption proceedings and permits only a husband and wife to jointly adopt."
     Plaintiff Clark Rowley claims he has no legal authority if something were to happen to his partner, David Chaney, who suffers from diabetes.
     Christopher Devine and Mason Hite IV were also married in California, and claim the state's refusal to recognize their marriage "prevents them from attaining equal legal status as fathers to their son." Hite's name is the only one that appears on their son's birth certificate, burdening the couple when it comes to "the mundane (permission slips and bank accounts) to the profound (decision-making in end-of-life situations)," the couple claims. (Parentheses in complaint.)
     The plaintiffs seek class certification and asks the court to "enforce their fundamental right to equal protection and due process under the United States Constitution, and declare as unconstitutional" the amendment to the Arizona Constitution.
     They also seek to "permanently enjoin the enforcement of any and all other provisions of Arizona law that may deny plaintiffs equal access to the benefits of marriage in the State of Arizona, including the right of same-sex couples to marry in or have their out-of-state marriages recognized by the State of Arizona."
     Utah in December became the 18th state to legalize same-sex marriage, but the U.S. Supreme Court put the law on hold pending appeal.
     Same-sex marriage is legal in California, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Washington D.C.
     The class is represented by Shawn Aiken.