By Glenn Gullickson, Echo Magazine
An organization that works for fairness and diversity in the court system will host a community conversation on lawsuits that challenge Arizona's definition of marriage.The Fight for Marriage Equality in Arizona: Taking it to the Courts will be June 27 at The Inn at 410 in Flagstaff. The event will give folks who aren't attorneys an idea of the importance of a fair and impartial court system as it relates to the marriage equality cases, according to Sam Wercinski, executive director of Arizona Advocacy Network.
Keynote speaker will be Donna Red Wing, executive director of Iowa One. The organization fought for fair courts when state Supreme Court justices who supported the successful lawsuit for marriage equality in Iowa lost their retention races.
Special guests at the meeting will be Meagan and Natalie Metz, of Flagstaff, who are plaintiffs in one of the cases in U.S. District Court in Arizona challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The couple has been together for seven years and were married in Washington state last year. When they attempted to apply for a marriage license in Coconino County in February they were denied.
Shawn Aiken, the Phoenix attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, will also attend the meeting. In an effort to reach the general community, Wercinski said the timing of the event coincides with Flagstaff's Pride in the Pines. He said some elected officials and candidates are expected to attend.
The meeting is also sponsored by Justice at Stake, a national organization that along with Arizona Advocacy Network seeks to strengthen Arizona's judicial merit selection system and protect courts from partisan and special interest attacks.
Wercinski said the effort includes helping the LGBT community establish a pipeline of more diverse candidates seeking positions as judges. He said Arizona's LGBT community has a larger percentage of judges compared to other minority groups in the state.