Tag Archives: same-sex marriage

Same Sex Adoption in Arizona After Latta v. Otter

Arizona’s adoption laws could be influenced by a recent civil rights cases decided by the federal appeals court holdings that same sex marriage prohibitions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Latta v. Otter, No. 13-cv-00482 (9th Cir. Oct. 7, 2014); Baskin v. Bogan, No. 14-2386 (7th Cir. Sept. 04, 2014).

Legal analysts think there may be changes to the legal landscape in Arizona because same sex marriages are permissible in Arizona.

Adoption by same sex couples is just one area that may be impacted by the Majors ruling (which is based on the Latta v. Otter opinion), holds prohibitions on same sex marriages are unconstitutional.

Currently, Arizona law creates a preferences for a married man and woman for adoptions.  “If all relevant factors are equal and the choice is between a married man and woman certified to adopt and a single adult certified to adopt, placement preference shall be with a married man and woman.”  Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-103(C).

Okay, let’s clarify real quick, “[a]ny adult resident of this state, whether married, unmarried or legally separated is eligible to qualify to adopt children.”  Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-103(A).  Although anyone can adopt a child, the “adoption agency shall place a child in an adoptive home” that is in the best interest of the child.  Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 8-103(B).  When signing Senate Bill 1188 into law in 2011, the Arizona Legislature directed state and private agencies to place children in adopted homes which are in the best interest of the child.  But one of the potential factors gives preferential treatment to a married man and woman.  The law very specifically mentions a preference  for a married man and woman and not a married couple.

The legislative history and media reports at the time confirm the same type of equal protection concerns arise under the adoption law. “Conservative groups and other supporters of the measure said children should have every opportunity to grow up in a household with a mom and dad.” The AZ Republic reported in 2011 when the law changed to add a preference for a married couple. Furthermore, media report is corroborated by the official “House Summary, As Transmitted To The Governor.”

Now that courts have ruled Arizona laws prohibiting same sex marriages are found to violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution this could have a positive effect on same sex couples who choose to adopt.

Hopefully, the provision giving preference to married heterosexual couples will be changed legislatively or judicially, soon.

To allow same-sex couples to adopt children and then to label their families as second-class because the adoptive parents are of the same sex is cruel as well as
unconstitutional. Classifying some families, and especially their children, as of lesser value should be repugnant to all those in this nation who profess to believe in ‘family values.’

 — Latta v. Otter, No. 13-cv-00482, at *28 (9th Cir. Oct. 7, 2014).

Equal Protection in Arizona Same Sex Marriages – A Look at the Change in Case Law

Last week a judge struck down a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona on equal protection grounds.  The ban was created by both state law and a state constitutional amendment.  United States District Judge John Sedwick on Oct. 17, 2014 declared Ariz. Const. art. 30, § 1, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-101(C), and Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-125(A) all violated federally protected constitutional rights.  Majors v. Horne, No. 14-cv-00518 (D. Ariz. Oct. 17, 2014) (the full opinion is available at the bottom of this article).

But this was not the first time the state laws were challenged (the Arizona Constitutional Amendment was not created at the time).  In 2003, the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously found both Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-101(C), and Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 25-125(A) to be reasonable laws, and upheld them in the face of constitutional challenges. Standhardt v. Superior Court of Ariz.,77 P.3d 451 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2003) (holding Arizona’s statutory prohibition of same sex unions does not violate either the Arizona or United States Constitution). These are the same state laws Judge Sedwick ruled unconstitutional last week.

So what gives?  What has changed so much in the past eleven years to warrant a complete reversal in judicial ideology?  I am very happy for this civil rights victory for same sex couples.

How two unanimous courts could come to completely opposite viewpoints on the same set of laws, really interests me from a civil rights perspective.  I want to delve into this really interesting situation and see what happened.

Couple Gets Married After Waiting 23 Years @ Same Sex Marriage Legalized in Iowa

Photo credit: Alan C., Flickr

Continue reading Equal Protection in Arizona Same Sex Marriages – A Look at the Change in Case Law

Arizona Legal News

  • U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ruled that same-sex marriage lawsuits in Arizona will not be merged.  Judge Sedwick said he would hear both of the cases independently.  [ABC15]
  • A preliminary study shows that recreational use of marijuana shows there are signs of changes in the brain.  Previous studies have showed mixed results.  Non-governmental agencies say more studies are needed to study the issue. [My Fox Phoenix]
  • Arizona House Bill 2565 will clarify the meaning of assisted suicide.  If the legislation is passed, assisted suicide will remain a manslaughter, but the definition will be clarified.  [ABC15]
  • The Arizona Supreme Court clarified when a timely notice of appeal must be filed.  The court ruled the notice of appeal must be provided within 20 days of the announcement of a sentence, and not when the court clerk files the paperwork. [AZ Supreme Court]
  • Veterans rallied today to protest the treatment they have received from the Veterans Administration Hospital in central Phoenix.  Recent revelations have indicated deaths at the hospital may be tied to delayed care.   [AZCentral]

Arizona Legal News

  • The United States Supreme Court refused to overturn a ruling that requires the Yuma County Sherriff to return medical marijuana that was confiscated from a qualifying patient under Arizona law at traffic stop in 2011. [HuffPost]
  • A federal judge denied an injunction to a law that restricts pill-induced abortions after seven weeks.  [USAToday]  The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood said they will appeal the Arizona federal court ruling.  [NY Times]

Read the District Judge David Bury’s order on the abortion pills here.  Planned Parenthood v. Humble, CV 14-1910 (D. Ariz. Mar. 31, 2014)  – Order

  • A new medical marijuana greenhouse is being built five miles from a drug checkpoint and is located in center of the I-19 drug smuggling corridor.  It could be an interesting case to see how effectively medical marijuana can be grown in Arizona.  [CBS5AZ]
  • Multiple cases are filed in Arizona federal court to challenge Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriages.  A plaintiff in one of the lawsuits wants to combine the cases, presumably to save resources and to show more strength in a united front.  The attorneys on the first case have not decided what is the best course of action yet.  [MyFoxPhoenix]
  • The Arizona Supreme Court will clarify its Dec. 2013 opinion which allow a law passed by the state legislature allowing higher campaign contributions to take effect. Critics argue the higher campaign limits violate current laws. [ABC15]

Read the text of the clarification here: [Clean Elections v. Hon. Brain/Bennett, CV 13-0341 (Ariz. Apr. 2, 2014)]