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Majors v. Jeanes

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 12, 2014

Nelda Majors, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Michael K. Jeanes, in his official capacity as Clerk of the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona, et al., Defendants

For Nelda Majors, Karen Bailey, David Larance, Kevin Patterson, Michelle Teichner, Barbara Morrissey, Kathy Young, Jessica Young, Kelli Olson, Jennifer Hoefle Olson, Kent Burbank, Vicente Talanquer, CJ Castro-Byrd, Jesus Castro-Byrd, Patrick Ralph, Josefina Ahumada, Equality Arizona, George Martinez, Fred McQuire, Plaintiffs: Alexis Elizabeth Danneman, Barry Grant Stratford, Kirstin T Eidenbach, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Perkins Coie LLP - Phoenix, AZ, Phoenix, AZ; Carmina OCampo, Jennifer C Pizer, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund Incorporated, Los Angeles, CA; Daniel Clayton Barr, Paul F Eckstein, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Perkins Coie LLP, Phoenix, AZ.

For William Humble, named as: Will Humble - in his official capacity as Director of the Department of Health Services, Michael K Jeanes, in his official capacity as Clerk of the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona, Defendants: Byron Jeffords Babione, James Andrew Campbell, Kenneth John Connelly, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Alliance Defending Freedom - Scottsdale, AZ, Scottsdale, AZ; Jonathan Caleb Dalton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alliance Defending Freedom, Scottsdale, AZ; Kathleen Patricia Sweeney, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, Solicitor Generals Section, Phoenix, AZ; Robert Lawrence Ellman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General - Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ.

For David Raber, in his official capacity as Director of the Department of Revenue, Defendant: Byron Jeffords Babione, James Andrew Campbell, Kenneth John Connelly, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Alliance Defending Freedom - Scottsdale, AZ, Scottsdale, AZ; Jonathan Caleb Dalton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alliance Defending Freedom, Scottsdale, AZ; Kathleen Patricia Sweeney, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, Solicitor Generals Section, Phoenix, AZ.

Page 1311

ORDER AND OPINION

JOHN W. SEDWICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

[Re: Motion at Docket 64]

I. MOTION PRESENTED

At docket 64, plaintiff Fred McQuire (" McQuire" ) asks for a temporary restraining order which would require defendants to recognize the legitimacy of his California marriage to his recently deceased partner George Martinez (" Martinez" ), require defendant Will Humble (" Humble" ) to prepare and issue a death certificate showing that Martinez was married to McQuire when he died, and require Humble to issue any necessary directives to health departments, funeral homes, physicians, medical examiners, and anyone else involved in preparing the death certificate to comply with the requirement to show that Martinez was married to McQuire at the time of his death. Defendants' response is at docket 70. McQuire replies at docket 73. Oral argument was heard on September 12, 2014.

II. BACKGROUND

McQuire and Martinez were a gay couple who lived together for many years in Green Valley, Arizona, until the time of Martinez's death. They are among the nineteen plaintiffs who filed the case at bar to challenge Arizona's constitutional and statutory provisions which ban same-sex marriage in Arizona and prevent Arizona from recognizing same-sex marriages lawfully entered in other states.[1] The defendants named in the current complaint[2] are Michael K. Jeanes, sued in his official capacity as Clerk of the Superior Court of Maricopa County; Will Humble, sued in his official capacity as Director of Arizona's

Page 1312

Department of Health Services; and David Raber, sued in his official capacity as Director of the Arizona Department of Revenue.

Plaintiffs contend--and defendants deny--that the challenged provisions of Arizona law deny them the equal protection of the laws required by the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition, plaintiffs contend--and defendants deny--that the challenged laws deny plaintiffs the substantive due process of law required by the Fourteenth Amendment.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

McQuire asks the court to issue an injunction commanding defendant Humble and his agents to prepare, issue, and accept a death certificate for Martinez stating he was married and naming McQuire as his spouse.[3] Injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy[4] which is not routinely granted.[5] The Ninth Circuit has explained that to obtain injunctive relief a plaintiff must show four things: First, he is likely to succeed on the merits; second, he is likely to suffer irreparable harm without the relief sought; third, a balancing of the equities tips toward him; and fourth, the public interest favors issuance of an injunction.[6]

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Preliminary Consideration

Defendants contend that the Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Nelson[7] effectively decided the claim upon which McQuire's motion rests--that a state violates the United States Constitution when it refuses to sanction same-sex marriages.[8] Defendants misapprehend the current significance of Baker. There, 42 years ago the Court said that a challenge to a Minnesota law defining marriage as between a man and a woman did not raise a substantial federal question. Even such a terse pronouncement binds the lower federal courts unless subsequent ...


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