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The Daily Wildcat


Lawyer, UA law scholars to discuss effects of DOMA on Arizona

Rebecca Marie Sasnett
Rebecca Marie Sasnett // The Daily Wildcat Barbara Atwood, director of the Family and Juvenile Certificate Program at the UA James E. Rogers College of Law, stands in front of her collection of family studies books and marriage books in her office at James E. Rogers College of Law Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. Atwood is one of the speakers at the “Death of DOMA: Implications for Arizona?” event.

The UA will host a discussion tonight allowing attendees to ask law experts questions about the Defense of Marriage Act and how it will affect Arizona.

The event, titled “Death of DOMA: Implications for Arizona?,” will be held in the James E. Rogers College of Law from 4 p.m. until 5:15 p.m. The speakers on the panel include Barbara Atwood, a family law scholar at the UA, Toni Massaro, a constitutional law professor and scholar at the UA, and tax lawyer Steven Phillips.

The UA Institute for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies is sponsoring the event.

“I think the panel will give an understanding particularly to people who are not lawyers, people who are not directly involved with it,” Phillips said. “I think it’ll give a good background of what the Supreme Court did in that case and where we are right now.”

The panel will cover topics ranging from the origin of DOMA to what the Supreme Court held in the United States v. Windsor case, where Section 3 of DOMA was struck down. Section 3 defined marriage for all purposes under federal law as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

“We still have on the books a constitutional provision that says marriage is one male and one female — that same-sex marriage is void,” Atwood said. “We’ll discuss how that will affect people’s rights under federal law.”

One of the issues that will be discussed is what these decisions mean -— in the Windsor case as well as in Hollingsworth v. Perry, where the Supreme Court ruled that the decision to overturn Proposition 8 in California would stand. Participants will also discuss where court decisions leave issues in states like Arizona where same-sex marriage is not recognized.

“[People can ask questions like,] ‘Can a person here in Arizona go to Maryland, one of the states that recognizes same-sex marriage, be married and then come back here?’” Phillips said. “‘Will the marriage be recognized?’ That’s the big question.”

As of right now, only 13 states recognize same-sex marriage. Some of the other 37 states don’t allow same-sex marriage to take place, but they’ll recognize the marriage as lawful if it comes from another state, such as New Mexico. States like Arizona, that are among the strictest states against same-sex marriage, don’t allow same-sex marriage to take place or even recognize it if it comes from elsewhere, Atwood said.

Atwood said she is anticipating more than 100 people to attend the event. There are no reservations and spots are being given on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We’re trying to make it accessible,” Atwood said. “We won’t be talking in technical legal terms; we want to help students at the university to understand it.”

Atwood and Phillips said they hope the panel will give the attendees a better understanding and background of DOMA and help raise awareness of the issues that surround the topic of same-sex marriage.

“It’s really a rapidly changing field,” Atwood said. “Almost every day we’re like, ‘We need to talk about this at the panel.’”

-follow Shannon @_ShannonH_

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