Judges Obligated to Perform Same Sex Marriages in Arizona

The same-sex marriage debate has again landed in Arizona. Perhaps as a reaction to judges in other states refusing to perform same-sex marriages even when ordered by higher courts to do so, the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee of the Arizona Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion this month on this matter (Advisory Opinion 15-01). The advisory opinion makes it clear that judges in Arizona may not avoid performing marriages for same-sex couples, even if based on personal beliefs or religious objections, unless the judge opts not to perform marriages at all. Judges are permitted to only perform marriages for friends and relatives. However, they may not refuse to perform marriages for same-sex friends and relatives.

As a reminder to readers, same-sex marriages have been permitted in Arizona since October 2014. As the national debate continues on this topic, the issue of same-sex marriage is becoming clearer in Arizona.