On March 12, 2014, a number of same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the state's Department of Health Services and the Department of Revenue. The plaintiffs, represented both by private counsel and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the state's refusal to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and its refusal to recognize lawfully entered same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, violated the plaintiffs' 14th Amendment equal protection and due process rights.
The plaintiffs were divided into two groups: those who wished to marry in Arizona, but were denied, and those who had lawfully married elsewhere, but whose marriages the state refused to recognize. They claimed the state's statutory and constitutional ban on same sex marriage harmed them in the following ways: deprived them of certain legal protections; penalized the couples in their tax returns; prevented the couples from jointly adopting children; prevented the couples from receiving benefits afforded to families of armed service veterans. A number of plaintiffs claimed the specific harm that the state had refused to list them as spouses on the death certificates of their deceased husbands and wives.
On Aug. 20, 2014, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction against the state with regard to one of the already-married couples: One of the spouses had just died, and the plaintiffs asked the court to require the state to prepare a death certificate recognizing the couple's marriage.
On Sept. 12, 2014, the district court (Judge John W. Sedwick) granted the plaintiff's motion, determining that the plaintiff was likely to prevail on the merits, and that he was likely to irreparably suffer both emotional and financial harm without the injunction.
On Oct. 7, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judges Reinhardt, Gould, and Berzon) affirmed an Idaho district court's finding that that state's ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional. At the same time, the 9th Circuit overturned a Nevada district court upholding its state's ban.
On Oct. 16, 2014, Judge Sedwick granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147960. He based his decision on the recent 9th Circuit ruling that found bans on same sex marriage to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. He also immediately enjoined the state from prohibiting same-sex marriages.
The next day, Arizona's Attorney General (Thomas Horne) issued a letter instructing the clerks of all Arizona county courts to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Andrew Junker - 10/15/2014