May 19, 2004
A showdown in the challenge to Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriages came Tuesday in a cramped reception area amid the constant chirping of a telephone and a broad-shouldered sheriff ’s deputy standing guard.
Four pastors, spurred on minutes before by about 100 people chanting "go, go, go," marched to the office of Michael Jeanes, Maricopa County’s Clerk of the Superior Court. They had affidavits in hand and a demand for marriage licenses for 41 couples whose wedding ceremonies they performed Saturday.
They were gone in about five minutes, still clutching the affidavits, but no licenses.
"We can’t record those as marriage licenses," said Cari Gerchick, Jeanes’ public affairs director. "We only record marriage licenses we issue."
The Rev. Brad Wishon, pastor of Gentle Shepherd Metropolitan Community Church in Phoenix, promised to return once a week until Arizona sanctions marriages between gay and lesbian couples.
"We are going to put Mr. Jeanes on notice. This is not the end of what we are doing, this is only the beginning," Wishon told the crowd of same-sex marriage proponents who gathered in downtown Phoenix.
Tuesday was the final part of a three-day effort to obtain state sanctioning for marriages of same-sex couples.
On Friday, couples chartered a bus that took them to justice of the peace and city courts from Apache Junction to Peoria, where they asked clerks for marriage licenses and were denied.
Wishon and his fellow ministers, the Rev. Charlotte Strayhorne, the Rev. Katie Cassidy and the Rev. Brad Spencer, conducted the weddings on Saturday.
One of the couples to get married Saturday was Patty Gomez, 26, and Mari Loera, 24.
Gomez said the denial only motivates her, then she smiled at Loera and kissed her.
"We move on, we keep protesting," Gomez said. "We feel like we’re married even though the state of Arizona doesn’t recognize it."
Massachusetts began issuing same -sex marriage licenses on Monday, which gives them hope.
"We can see progress every day," Gomez said.
Standing near the gathering was Cathi Herrod, who is with Center for Arizona Policy, the Scottsdale-based group that organized Monday’s gathering of thousands at the state Capitol to protest same sex-marriage.
"We applaud Mr. Jeanes for upholding the law," Herrod said. "Arizona law is clear: Marriage is between one man and one woman."
On May 25, the Arizona Supreme Court will decide whether to accept the case of two men who were unable to convince the Arizona Court Appeals that they were constitutionally entitled to wed.
There is also a resolution in the state Senate urging Congress to approve an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriages. The Arizona House already has passed the resolution.