”Parent” Definition Arizona

In Arizona, the legislature has decreed "a valid marriage is contracted by a male person and a female person." A.R.S. § 25-125(A) (2000).

The legislature has been explicit that "marriage between persons of the same sex is void and prohibited." A.R.S. § 25-101(C) (2000).

Thus, the legislature's use of the term "parent" in creating a parent-child relationship explicitly tied to "lawful wedlock" clearly establishes family structure in Arizona based directly on a definition of parent as one man as a father and one woman as a mother.

The legislature emphasized the importance of the tie to gender (no more than one person of each gender) by also providing that "marriages valid by the laws of the place where contracted are valid in this state, except marriages that are void and prohibited by § 25-101 same-sex marriages." A.R.S. § 25-112(A) (2000) (emphasis added). Thus, one could not argue that a parent-child relationship with parents of the same sex was created by "lawful wedlock" in another state because such marriages (and parent-child relationships based on such marriages) are not valid under § 25-112(A).

The legislature's use of the term "parent" in setting forth the effect of an adoption on a biological parent also reinforces a construction of the term parent with limitations on gender and number.

When a decree of adoption is entered in Arizona, the statute provides that "the relationship of parent and child" between a child and his former parents "is completely severed," with one significant exception. A.R.S. § 8-117(B) & (C).

Thus, under the general rule, this provision makes clear that there can be no more than one parent of the same gender per child.

The one exception to the general rule reinforces this.

The exception is where "the adoption is by the spouse of the child's parent." A.R.S. § 8-117(C).

In that case, "the relationship of the child to that parent remains unchanged by the decree of adoption." Id.