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Group urging Tom Horne to stand aside, allow legal marriage in Arizona

PHOENIX — Marriage equality groups believe only one man — Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne — stands in the way of legalizing same-sex marriage in Arizona.

Members of Why Marriage Matters Arizona dropped off more than 5,000 petitions at Horne’s office Thursday to encourage him to drop the state’s defense against gay marriage.

After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled same-sex marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho are unconstitutional Tuesday, the group has been putting pressure on Horne to stop enforcing Arizona’s ban.

“If he stepped aside, it would open a very clear and fast path for those couples who just want the same freedoms that everyone else enjoys,” Jeremy Zegas with Why Marriage Matters Arizona said.

The group plans to continue putting pressure on Horne until same-sex marriage is legal in Arizona.

“His standing in the way is the largest and most obvious impediment and would be the easiest path to allowing couples to marry as quickly as possible,” Zegas said.

Horne, however, plans to continue enforcing the state’s gay marriage ban until the courts strike it down.

Zegas said Horne could simply stop enforcing the ban after this week’s ruling, but Stephanie Grisham with Horne’s office, said it is not that easy.

“Until we get a legal possession from the court and can determine the next step, it’s a waiting game for us,” she said. “The way it stands now, gay marriage in Arizona is unconstitutional.

“That’s the law and we, as the state attorneys, have to defend that law.”

Until the courts make a ruling on Arizona’s ban, Grisham said marriage equality groups are wasting time petitioning Horne.

“We understand what they’re doing but unfortunately those efforts are probably better served if given to the Legislature or to the lawmakers who create these laws,” she said.