"I believe that the institution of marriage should be reserved for the union of one man and one woman, said Sen. McCain. The Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment would allow the people of Arizona to decide on the definition of marriage in our state. I wholeheartedly support the Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment and I hope that the voters in Arizona choose to support it as well."
-- John McCain in 2005, smiling with glee alongside then-chair of Protect Marriage Arizona, the late Lynn Stanley, holding some of the petitions that ensured the measure made it on the ballot.
In the only state that fundies managed to put a marriage amendment on the ballot only to see it go down in defeat, John McCain's state of Arizona has a bunch of homobigots ready to try again to enshrine discrimination in its constitution because, apparently, the voters were snookered the first time.
Unable to persuade voters to ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic-partner benefits in 2006, proponents are reloading and taking aim at a smaller target.
A proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution, filed Monday by Senate President Tim Bee, seeks to ask voters to spell out in the constitution that "only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state." Bee, R-Tucson, managed to get 15 of the 16 other GOP senators to sign on as sponsors.
An identical measure is being pushed in the House by Speaker Jim Weiers of Phoenix, who got all but two of his Republican colleagues to be co-sponsors.
...Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which helped craft the 2006 measure, acknowledged that the new version is far less sweeping than the initiative. But she said the decision was made to pursue what is politically possible. "This is about where we agree, about bringing Arizonans together on an agreement on a definition of marriage," Herrod said.
Would this watered down version get the thumbs up from the voters? In 2005, a survey found that 54% of Arizonans would support an amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. That support dropped dramatically when a ban on civil unions or DP benefits was part of the measure (33%). Has enough changed in those three years to turn back such an initiative?
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Phoenix Democrat who was one of the leaders of the opposition to the 2006 initiative, all but conceded the point during the campaign, saying that if the measure had been limited to just banning same-sex marriage, it likely would have passed.
Foes specifically — and successfully — portrayed the issue not as one dealing with gays but as an attack on heterosexual couples who choose not to marry. In fact, every couple featured in press conferences and commercials consisted of one man and one woman who were living together.
A narrower initiative also might lure fewer donations, thereby killing it. In 2006, supporters spent slightly more than $1 million; foes had $1.8 million.
The lesson here -- these culture warriors will not stop until the courts decide that LGBT Americans are entitled to all civil rights that heterosexuals take for granted. It will be one battle after another. That is why the far right's obsession with judicial appointments at all levels is such a priority -- to slow the turning tide of social change with legal roadblocks that are hard to undo.