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Arizona Court Upholds Ban on Gay Marriage

October 9, 2003

PHOENIX (AP) _ A state appeals court upheld Arizona’s ban on gay marriages Wednesday, rejecting arguments from a gay couple that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right.

Harold Standhardt and Tod Keltner applied for a marriage license after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that made homosexual sex a crime. The Phoenix couple’s request for a license was turned down and they asked the state Court of Appeals to overturn the ban and to order a court clerk to give them a license.

The couple argued that the Supreme Court ruling established same-sex marriages as a fundamental right.

``This court does not dispute that a homosexual person’s choice of life partner is an intimate and important decision,″ the appeals court’s ruling said. ``However, not all important decisions (concerning) personal autonomy are protected fundamental rights.″

The couple’s lawyer, Michael S. Ryan, said he expects to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court but that he needed to consult his clients first.

Benjamin W. Bull, chief counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, hailed the ruling, saying it correctly found that the Supreme Court decision ``didn’t lay a glove″ on the traditional institution of marriage. The national conservative advocacy group, based in Scottsdale, filed a brief opposing the Arizona lawsuit.

Advocates on both sides of the issue said Wednesday’s ruling was the first nationally by an appeals court since the Supreme Court decision in June. The justices voted 6-3 to strike down a Texas law that allowed police to arrest gays for oral or anal sex, conduct that would be legal for heterosexuals.

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