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Gay marriage has become legal in Arizona after the state's conservative attorney general said Friday that he wouldn't challenge a federal court decision that cleared the way for same-sex unions in the state.
The announcement prompted gay couples to line up at the downtown courthouse in Phoenix, where they began to marry immediately.
It was a sharp turn, less than a year ago Arizona was ground zero in the clash over gay rights after the overwhelmingly Republican state Legislature passed a measure that would have allowed businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians.
David Larance and Kevin Patterson, who were among the couples who sued to overturn the state's ban, waited in the growing line for marriage licenses and reflected on the effect of the ruling. "The best way I can describe it, is that it gives me such peace of mind," Patterson said, choking back tears.
The decision bookends two weeks of nonstop court rulings across the nation, with judges striking down bans on same-sex unions and conservative state officials pushing back in a struggle that has increasingly gone in favor of gay marriage supporters. More than 30 states now extend marriage rights to gay couples, and cases are pending in several others.
Arizona’s conservative governor, Jan Brewer said in a statement that federal courts have thwarted the will of voters and eroded the state's power to regulate laws. "Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas," Brewer said. "It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that same-sex marriages should be allowed."
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