This is What Equality Looks Like

Marriage equality arrives in Arizona, and in Pima County, it was a day all about new love and long-time commitment

Typically when two regular people marry, a bevy of news media doesn't descend on the nuptials unless they call themselves paparazzi and they make stealthily hiding in bushes part of their professional skillset.

However, last Friday, Oct. 17, if you happened to be a same-sex couple who walked out of the Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson with a manila envelope in hand, you were greeted by what was undoubtedly a show of support of marriage equality, with several local clergy easily identifiable and ready to marry anyone who wanted to make it completely official, right there in the breezeway for the world to see, along with sign-carrying supporters and about 10 polite but very intrusive reporters, photographers and cameramen waiting to capture every historical image.

After state after state had anti-same-sex marriage laws declared unconstitutional, Arizona that morning became the 32nd state to have a U.S. District Court judge rule its same law also unconstitutional. At that point, the only perceived holdup was the state.

Would state Attorney General Tom Horne appeal? Supposedly we wouldn't know until Monday, when Horne was expected to have a press conference. In what seemed like an uncharacteristic reality check at the Capitol up north, Horne's press conference was rescheduled to late Friday morning to announce there would be no appeal and that counties across the state could start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately.

Ready. Set. Go.

I call the Pima County Office of the Clerk, and the clerk who answers the phone says happily and breathlessly, "Yes, today, people can come down right now and get licenses. Isn't this exciting?," With phones ringing in the background, he has to go, dozens of people are calling asking the same thing, and "Can we come down today and get a marriage license?"

The county, in anticipation that a federal judge would soon overturn Arizona's anti-marriage equality law after the 9th Circuit ruled earlier in the month that similar laws in Idaho and Nevada were unconstitutional, had said it could have new licenses with spouse replacing husband and wife on new licenses printed up as soon as Monday, Oct. 20.

Now, with Horne's announcement, the old licenses were going to do just fine, and it was left to the couples to decide if they wanted to cross anything out on the document and if they wanted, at no additional charge beyond the initial $76 license fee, they could come in Monday and get a new license.

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