On January 6, 2014, when several same-sex couples who were residents of Arizona filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the state of Arizona. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court to declare that all Arizona laws banning same-sex marriages are unconstitutional, to compel the defendants to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, to award the plaintiffs nominal damages as well as the costs of suit and attorneys' fees.
In 1996, the state of Arizona banned same-sex marriage, and in 2008 this ban was added to the state constitution in The Marriage Protection Amendment. The plaintiffs claimed that Arizona's laws prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages targeted homosexuals for disfavored treatment and interfered with the flow of the plaintiffs' spousal benefits and their ability to build their families. They further allege that these laws violated their rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution.
On July 29, 2014, the District court (Judge John W. Sedwick) granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claim for nominal damages, ruling that the Eleventh Amendment bars such claims from being brought against state officials.
On October 16, 2014, the District Court (Judge Sedwick) granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. The court ruled that Arizona's laws banning same sex marriage are unconstitutional in light of the Ninth Circuit's decision in Latta v. Otter
, and entered a permanent injunction barring their enforcement.
The defendants filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on November 17, 2014. The parties stipulated that the appellate proceedings will be stayed until the Supreme Court's decision in the DeBoer
The DeBoer case was decided by the outcome of Obergefell v. Hodges.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court held that the right to marry is fundamental, and it demeans gay and lesbian couples to deprive them of access to marriage. The 14th Amendment therefore does not allow states to ban same-sex marriage. Kennedy was joined without further writing by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. Each of the four dissenters--Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito--wrote a dissent.
Following the decision in the Supreme Court, the parties jointly stipulated for an entry of judgement for the plaintiff's attorneys' fees and other litigation expenses. On September 29, 2015, the court entered a judgement of $200,000 for the plaintiffs. Megan Dolan - 07/15/2014
Thomas Topping - 03/16/2015
Carolyn Weltman - 02/21/2016