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On March 9, the Arizona State Judiciary Ethics Advisory Committee issued a revised version of an earlier opinion that may now improve the lives of many cohabitating couples. The advisory committee issued its opinion that judges who reject same-sex couples for wedding ceremonies may be violating state ethics rules. In particular, the opinion says that judges who perform weddings cannot use the sexual orientations of perspective same-sex marriage partners as grounds for refusing those couples.

It’s important to note that the advisory committee warned judges who “discontinue” performing marriages for everyone yet still perform them for their friends and relatives may face difficulty later. The advisory committee warned that those judges who do so they put themselves at a disadvantage against misconduct charges related to discriminatory practices.

Arizona’s not the first state where judges have required clarification regarding same-sex marriage discrimination. In fact, in 2013, the state of Washington admonished a judge for proclaiming his refusal to participate in performing same-sex marriages. Last October, a North Carolina courts administrator also had to remind magistrates of their obligations to perform same-sex marriages.

Cohabitating same-sex couples should know that Arizona’s recent extension of marriage rights to gay couples is likely to face challenges. The good news is that an Arizona family law attorney can assist you with maintaining ownership of the valuable things that you brought into your relationship, regardless of changes in same-sex marriage laws.

If you are currently in a same-sex relationship, you should know that cohabitation agreements and domestic partnerships are still good ways to protect your property and assets in the event of a future separation from your partners. Furthermore, prenuptial agreements are also still a viable way to preserve the premarital interests of same-sex couples who decide to get married.

Source: Fox 12- Oregon, “Arizona judges who perform weddings cannot turn away gay couples” Mar. 17, 2015

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