Local groups rally as same-sex marriage goes before Supreme Court

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Up to 200 supporters of same-sex marriage rallied in downtown Phoenix Tuesday night. They marched for marriage equality as Supreme Court justices consider two landmark cases on the issue this week.

“My hope is that I can eventually legally marry my wife,” Melanie Puskar-Blakely said. “We want same rights as everyone else.”

Puskar-Blakely and her partner, Tonya Blakely, married in California before voters in that state passed Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, the case the nation’s high court is now considering.

“It personally affects us,” Blakely said. “We’re two loving parents. It’s not about gender. Right now this affects me because I don’t have legal rights to my children.”

On Wednesday, justices will hear arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples.

“We want the same 1,138 rights everyone else has,” Puskar-Blakely said.

While it’s too early to know what the Supreme Court will decide, opponents of same-sex marriage say arguments Tuesday indicate justices appear reluctant to make a broad ruling.

“It was an encouraging day because we saw that the court seemed a little hesitant to want to intervene on this issue,” said Aaron Baer of the Center for Arizona Policy, the group which backed Arizona’s measure to ban gay marriage.

Baer said he wants the issue left up to individual states.

“There’s a national debate going on about the purpose and meaning of marriage, going on in states across the country," Baer said. "The court seems very hesitant to jump in and silence that debate.

“Ultimately, our hope is they respect the will of the more than 7 million California voters who said a union should be between one man and one woman,” Baer continued.

However, supporters of same-sex marriage say recent polls show public opinion is changing.

“We’re going to get there,” said openly gay Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot. “We have to be pragmatic and practical and recognize that a majority of the Supreme Court is conservative, which means they could either completely dismiss the case, which I don’t think they will do, but I think we have to be prepared for a very narrow ruling. We’re not going to know for several months; no one knows what goes on behind those doors.”

A ruling from the Supreme Court isn’t expected until June.