THE BLOG
12/20/2013 11:31 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Gay Marriage in Arizona

I recently attended my first gay wedding in Phoenix, Arizona, a place where gay marriage is not yet legal. The theme was 'Modern 1700's Masquerade.' Guests wore elaborate masks, boisterous plumage, and hair higher than Marie Antoinette's with petticoats, pearls and the occasional pirate hat while sipping 'French Revolution' martinis under the starlight. I chose a late-1700's, French dignitary look with a modern twist, as if just arriving from Mozart's latest performance.

Desiato and Javier, who have been in a committed relationship for 7 years, to be granted a marriage license, first wed in Malibu, California.

With the recent announcement, as reported by The Huffington Post, same-sex couples can now add New Mexico to the list of destinations where their marriage license can be granted, because the state's Supreme Court has deemed Gay marriage constitutional.

Same-sex couples in Arizona, like the middle seat in coach, are now cramped between the beautiful views of the window seat of California and the freeing exuberance of the aisle where New Mexico now sits.

Barbra Seville, a prominent Arizona performer and community activist, recently posted, "I still fear Arizona will be a hold out (maybe state 49 or so) when it comes to this issue."

Arizona has had its reputational problems before (see MLK Day, SB1070 or Gov. Brewer on a tarmac). The extreme right of our political system keeps shooting Arizona's future in the foot.

With both the refusal to support Martin Luther King Day and the passing of SB1070, Arizona saw a significant downturn in tourism and global business interactions. However, to play host to the Super Bowl they passed MLK Day and protests against 1070 continue with increasing fervor (even as I write this article, one protest roars outside my window).

Another example is when Phoenix (which elected an openly gay City Council member in 2003) passed a non-discrimination bill only to be followed by SB1432, a bill put forth by State House Representative, John Kavanagh (R-D8), that would require proof of sex via your birth certificate in order to use a male and/or female bathroom; a bill targeting the Transgender community. This was subsequently dubbed, "The Bathroom Bill," and you can guess which accomplishment the national media decided to cover.

Fortunately, in that instance, the progressive community was able to bring out so many people against this derogatory bill, that Kavanagh was forced to shelve the legislation while Phoenix was just awarded a perfect score on HRC's Municipal Equality Index.

Our state legislature (Red dominated), unlike our municipalities (Blue dominated), prefers to use its considerable political muscle to cause uproar over social issues rather than deal with the much larger economic issues at hand. Their incurable need to focus on social issues, which increasingly poll favorably on a national basis, are, in fact, hurting our state and local economies by keeping Arizona an international joke.

So one can see why Barbra believes Arizona would be one of the last states to declare Gay Marriage legal. I will, however, put my faith in a much higher ranking as to when Gay Marriage becomes legal in this state. And here is why:

  • Arizona, in essence, is a swing state, as seen when Bill Clinton turned Arizona blue.
  • Jan Brewer, as Secretary of State, only first moved up in power as Governor when our elected Democratic Governor, Janet Napolitano, was appointed by President Obama to head Homeland Security.
  • The large number of independents and libertarians who vote in Arizona.
  • The increasing number of statewide municipalities who have passed Civil Union legislation.
  • The huge amount of emigration to Arizona's urban centers from cities and states that are seen as 'more liberal.'
  • The growing turnout of moderate voters in our local elections.
  • The passion of Arizona's equality activists to push through these positive accomplishments, including the Why Marriage Matters public education campaign.

However, until Arizona legalizes gay marriage and begins to enjoy the considerable business and cultural advancements that follow, the LGBT community will be taking puddle jumpers to Malibu to hand over their cash for the official license. Or, now, perhaps Santa Fe.

welcome to PHOENIX from Ryan Nelson on Vimeo.