- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2004

PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix-area couples who plan to marry must now appear in person to obtain a marriage license after officials halted a mail-in program amid the controversy over homosexual “marriages.”

The change was made Friday after Maricopa County officials received a mail-in request for a license that suggested the couple could be homosexual, said Cari Gerchick, spokeswoman for the Superior Court clerk’s office.

Arizona law defines marriage as involving a man and a woman.

Miss Gerchick said the clerk’s office wanted to avoid issuing a license to a same-sex couple by mistake.

“With all the controversy with this issue, it’s more prudent to require people to walk in,” she said. “We’re certainly not the license police, but we do have a legal obligation to not knowingly violate the law.”

Of 23,000 licenses processed each year in Maricopa County, about 1,000 are requested by mail, officials said.

More than 3,600 same-sex “marriages” were performed in San Francisco in the past three weeks, and hundreds of homosexual couples were granted licenses last week in Portland, Ore.

The Arizona law specifying marriage as between a man and a woman dates to 1975, when two Phoenix men were granted a marriage license, which later was revoked.

Since the change in law, only two known homosexual couples have been issued marriage licenses in Arizona. The same-sex couples, one female and one male, received the licenses in Cochise County in 1999. In both cases, the license application was filled out in a way that implied the couple was of the opposite sex.

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