Discriminatory gay marriage ban has no place in AZby PAULA ABOUD
Published: 09.08.2008, Tucson Citizen
Once again, the citizens of Arizona have an initiative on the November ballot to change our state’s constitution.
Two years ago, we voted “no” on Proposition 107; this year it’s Proposition 102, a slightly different version.
It would amend the Arizona Constitution to deny the option of marriage to same-sex couples. Not only did we vote “no” two years ago, but state law also already defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
In fact, the Legislature voted “no” on this bill twice this year before it finally passed. So why is it on the ballot yet again?
It was forced upon legislators by extremist fundamentalist lobbyists representing a little-known group, the Center for Arizona Policy.
This group was in debt $500,000 from failing to pass this initiative in 2006 and needed money badly. In fact, the Senate president rebuked their tactics on the floor of the Senate, saying, “They have confronted members (legislators) in hostile ways and have threatened and coerced them, in my opinion.”
Their strategies were appalling yet successful. (After pushing this bill through Legislature this year, they received $600,000 in contributions from national groups such as evangelical leader James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.)
Another force was a “directive” from the Republican Party to get it on the ballot.
Many seats are at stake in the Arizona elections. In a phone call to state Senate President Tim Bee, U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl coerced Bee to put the bill up for a vote. Republicans needed this bill to get out their fringe voters this fall.
A third force is that of fear and discrimination. One such example is Sen. Sylvia Allen, who on the floor of the Senate described her moral superiority and the need to protect families.
She indicated that same-sex marriage will signal the end of civilization as we know it.
Ward Connerly, a conservative black Republican, has run successful legislation opposing affirmative action. Interestingly, his arguments involve honoring our constitution and fighting discrimination.
He says gay marriage is not ‘eroding the concept of marriage.’ If marriage is that fragile, that giving people who are gay equal benefit (would cause harm), then we’re in big trouble.
“I believe in the institution of marriage,” Connerly says, “but I also believe in freedom. I believe in treating people equally.”
Unfortunately, his Republican counterparts in our Legislature don’t.
They overruled the Senate president and suspended rules in order to force a vote on this bill.
And after several defeats, while on the verge of losing that vote once again, they blatantly broke Senate rules on the last day of the session by shutting off Sen. Ken Cheuvront’s microphone in midsentence in order to pass this heinous legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor even admitted to me on the floor that he knew he was breaking the Senate rules. He chose dishonorable tactics.
Cheuvront is openly gay. The former president of the Young Republicans now is a moderate Democrat and has served 12 years in the Legislature.
He is a powerful senator, smart, capable, hardworking - a contributor to his community and his state.
He works side by side with Republicans on key business, tax and health-care issues. In other words, he’s a friend of the Republicans.
On the last day of the session, they threw that respect and friendship out the window. They turned on him, verbally smearing gays.
We are doctors, lawyers, CEOs, artists, athletes, teachers, etc., who are gay and are denied the 1,000-plus benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy.
We, like Cheuvront, contribute to our communities, yet we can’t enjoy the same rights as a couple who met and married after a drunken weekend in Las Vegas.
We pay taxes as others do, yet more than 1,000 benefits are denied to us. That’s not equality, that’s discrimination.
Perpetuating fear, extremists claim that “activist” judges will overturn our state law.
But it was California’s GOP-nominated conservative judges who declared it unconstitutional to deny equal rights to LGBT citizens.
Those judges weren’t gay rights activists. They understand the words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men (and women) are created equal.”
Opponents say, “Let the people vote.” We did vote in 2006, they just didn’t like how the people voted. Don’t write discrimination into the Arizona Constitution. Vote no on Prop. 102 - again.
For more information, go to votenoprop102.com.
Sen. Paula Aboud is an openly lesbian Democratic state senator for District 28 who also is denied the rights and benefits most of her constituents enjoy. E-mail: