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Activists urge Gov. Brewer to recognize same-sex marriages

PHOENIX — A group of activists made a push for the state of Arizona to recognize same-sex marriages from other states on Friday.

The group dropped off more than 1,000 signatures at Gov. Jan Brewer’s office, urging her to reconsider her position on the issue and to use to her influence to enact change.

“We’d ask the governor, who I think showed great leadership in her veto of Senate Bill 1062 … we’d like her respectfully to reconsider her position on this issue,” said Jeremy Zegas, project director with Why Marriage Matters Arizona.

The issue has come to a head after tax season became much more difficult for same-sex couples in Arizona.

For the first time, the federal government recognized the marriages of same-sex couples after a Supreme Court ruling last June to strike down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act. This allowed gay couples to file joint returns for 2013.

However, because Arizona does not recognize same-sex marriages from other states, couples would still have to file separate state returns, causing confusion for some, according to Zegas.

“It created a lot of confusion in many cases,” Zegas said. “Folks had to fill out up to five different returns in some cases, so they’ have to fill out their joint federal return, then what’s called a dummy single return for the federal filing, and then have to file their two separate returns for the state.”

Tonya Blakely married Melanie Puskar-Blakely in California in 2008 and said not being able to file joint returns has taken more than just an economic toll on her, Melanie and four children.

“The state of Arizona says ‘No, I’m nothing other than a friend to these children,'” Tonya said. “I’ve raised them since birth.”

Tonya said she wants Brewer to recognize same-sex marriages for more purposes than just taxes, though.

“I’m not recognized on birth certificates. I can’t take them to the doctors,” she said. “I have no legal rights at all to my children.”

The signatures have been delivered to the governor’s reception desk in the Executive Tower of the Arizona State Capitol.