Friday, July 18, 2008

Arizona Republicans Force Another Anti-marriage Vote

by Joel Wendland

The Human Rights Campaign reports that Arizona's November ballot will feature an anti-marriage equality initiative.

The initiative was passed in the Republican controlled state senate by the barest margin, and would put in place a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. "Arizona voters rejected a similar measure in 2006," writes HRC, "making Arizona the only state where voters have defeated a marriage amendment at the polls. Arizona statutory law already prohibits marriage by same-sex couples.

"It is sad and it is disappointing that the Arizona legislature used the final moments of its session to send a divisive, discriminatory measure back to voters this fall," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix said: "Arizonans have far more important issues to deal with than adding a redundant ban on marriage by same-sex couples to the state constitution. This referendum is a distraction from real priorities like education, health care, and the economy."

These events raise a couple of questions: Because Arizonans have already voted against this issue, why do Republicans want to waste more tax payer money on an issue meant to be divisive? Is this such a high priority for them?

But more fundamentally, why do Republican opponents of marriage equality care so deeply about excluding queer couples from accessing the social benefits afforded to heterosexual couples? Surely it cannot be that they believe that with 50% divorce rates among straight couples that they are somehow saving marriage.

What does my private relationship with another person have to do with another private relationship? Not much.

When it comes right down to it, the issue is one of fundamental fairness for all couples, on one hand. And on the other, irrational hatred and fear of gay and lesbian men and women.

Arizonans already stood up for fairness in 2006. Let's hope they can do it again. And let's hope the Republicans can find better uses for taxpayer dollars than imposing their personal morality on the rest of us.