The Defeat of Arizona Proposition 107 by buz

 

In November of 2006 Arizona voters rejected a gay marriage ban by a narrow margin. The

 

argument was made that a gay marriage ban would hurt straight couples too. Proposition 107,

 

also known as the Protect Marriage Amendment reads:

 

     To preserve and protect marriage in this state, only a union of one man and of one woman

 

     shall be valid or recognized as marriage by this state or its political subdivisions and no legal

    

     status for unmarried persons shall be created or recognized by this state or its political          

 

     subdivisions that is similar to marriage. (Belge, 2006)

 

Current Arizona law does not allow gay marriage and does not honor same sex marriage from

 

any other state or country. “In November, Arizona became the first and only state in the nation to

 

turn down a measure defining marriage.” (Scarpinato, 2007)  The margin the proposition was

 

defeated by left some wondering if attitudes were changing towards gay marriage. “Arizona

 

refused to outlaw gay marriage by a vote of 51 to 49 percent.” (S.D. reject anti-abortion

 

proposal; Arizona says no to ban on same-sex marriage, 2006) Proposition 107 failed in Arizona

 

because opponents used an argument different from similar propositions that were successful in

 

other states. What made Arizona different from other states by defeating a gay marriage ban?

 

     The defeat of Proposition 107 was brought about mainly from senior citizens turning out in

 

high numbers to vote against it. “Many elderly single persons in Arizona have paired off and as it

 

were; shacked up; but to avoid losing Medicare and Social Security benefits they have been

 

avoiding marriage.” (Gay & Lesbian Review,2007) What was determined early on are the

 

words that did not resonate with voters. Words like discrimination, fairness, and equality did not

 

work. State Representative Krysten Sinema, a leading voice in the opposition to Proposition 107

 

stated,

 

     We know why it failed; we did a post-election poll and asked why they voted no. They voted  

 

     no because they believed that the initiative would remove the right for unmarried couples in

 

     the state to enjoy domestic partner health benefits from their employers, and in Tucson, lose

 

     the domestic partner registry which allows couples to have visitation rights in the hospital like

 

     married couples. We did use a straight senior couple in our advertising and told their story

 

     about how they would lose access to hospital visitation if the initiative passed. The story

 

     proved to be influential in the minds of voters.(personal communication, Sinema, 2007)

 

Proposition 107 could have had consequences for domestic violence laws, tuition benefits for

 

students with partners, and children losing health benefits because their mother and father were

 

not married.

 

     The major proponents of Proposition 107 were Protect Marriage Arizona, Focus on the

 

Family, The Center for Arizona Policy, and the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale Arizona

 

based conservative Christian legal group. Arizona’s Roman Catholic Church stood strong in

 

favor of Prop.107 as well as presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain. “After filing

 

307,576 signatures – 200,000 of which were gathered by volunteers, the Protect Marriage

 

Amendment was placed on the ballot.” (The Center For Arizona Policy, 2007)  Their message

 

consistently said this proposal was needed to prevent the attack on marriage. “There is a trend

 

toward counterfeit marriages. These counterfeits are domestic partnerships and civil unions that

 

are demanding the same recognition bestowed upon married couples.” (The Center for Arizona

 

Policy, 2007) The proponents perceived that the homosexual agenda was making a mockery out

 

of marriage. Marriage is the fundamental unit of any society. “A strong society cannot be

 

maintained if its family unit is weak.” (Azmarriageamendment.com, 2006) The

 

advertising campaign of the proponents consisted of sharing facts that countered what they said

 

were myths put out by their opposition.  Those in favor of this proposition suggested domestic

partner benefits should be different then married couples. The opponents argued different was

 

not equal, it was discrimination.

 

     The proponents spent considerable time on the sexual relationships of unmarried couples.

 

“They did not oppose granting benefits to unmarried people, as long as they are granted in a

 

manner that does not endorse sexual conduct outside of marriage.” (Alliance Defense Fund,

 

2005) Recognizing same-sex relationships have always been a political hot button for the

 

government.  As long as those in favor of Proposition 107 could keep the focus on the moral

 

issue of homosexual behavior they could generate support.  They wanted to promote a message

 

that those against Prop. 107 would say anything to promote the homosexual agenda.

 

    The major opponents of Proposition 107 were Arizona Together Coalition, Arizona

 

Human Rights Fund and Foundation, and the Human Rights Campaign. They held to their

 

point that Prop.107 would affect heterosexuals. Rarely was anything mentioned about gay

 

couples. The opponents were often accused of not being straightforward in their advertising

 

campaign. There were never gay couples in the commercials put out by Arizona Together

 

Coalition. 79 year-old Al Breznay and partner Maxine Piatt, 75, were happy to be in the

 

commercials.  They felt it was important to defeat Prop.107.  Marty Rouse, national field director

 

of the Human rights Campaign, said, “It was not deception but necessity that led the campaign to

 

focus more on straight couples.”(Crawford, 2006) Some said the measure lost because of the

 

opposition of popular Republican Representative Jim Kolbe. Mr. Kolbe was the gay Arizona

 

congressman retiring soon whose opinion was always sought. “The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and

 

transgender (LGBT) movement strategies had to be sufficiently prophetic, visionary, creative,

 

and practical to counter the right’s powerful and effective use of “wedge” politics – the strategic

 

marketing of fear and resentment that pits one group against another.” (Beyondmarriage.org,

 

2006) The amendment would have passed easily if the focus was on gay marriage. The

 

opponents of Proposition 107 were constant and controlled in their message.

 

     Throughout the nation different strategies have been used.  There were different messages

 

targeting different groups. Conservative Christians were against Liberal Christians and

 

Progressives were against left leaning Libertarians. The opposition to a similar amendment in

 

South Carolina argued from a civil rights perspective. Tennessee opponents said their

 

amendment was redundant and not needed. The opponents of a similar measure in Idaho spent

 

most of their time trying to educate the voter. Arizona was different, the passage of Prop. 107

 

would have banned all civil unions and domestic partnerships. Proposition 107 weighed heavy

 

on the minds of seniors that wanted to be able to make medical decisions for their partners. The

 

proponents of Proposition 107 wanted this argument to be about gay marriage. Since the 1960’s

 

they have believed that marriage has been under attack. They feel strongly that to redefine

 

marriage will weaken the nuclear family. The opposition to Proposition 107 held steadfast that

 

this was not about gay marriage. The proposition was about benefits for government employees.

 

Current benefits would have been lost by employees of Pima County, and in the cities of

 

Phoenix, Tucson, Scottsdale, and Tempe.

 

     The future may be changing for the recognition of domestic partners. That Proposition

 

107 failed in a conservative state like Arizona surprised many. The margin of defeat was

 

about 50,000 votes of 1.4 million cast. Cathi Herrod, the spokesperson from Protect

 

Marriage Arizona Coalition said, “The struggle to protect marriage between one man and one

 

woman is far from over…It’s a token win for the opposition.” (The Center For Arizona

 

Policy, 2006) Rick Ufford-Chase, the highest elected official of the Presbyterian Church

 

(USA) from June 2004 to June of 2006 said, “What we must not tolerate are laws motivated

 

by hate or discrimination, or that single out an entire class of people to be treated differently

 

than the rest of us.” (U-C: What I See, 2006)

 

      Arizona is known for being one of the retirement capitals of the nation.  Many seniors

 

come to Arizona to retire. Many have lost their life partner and have joined into a domestic

 

partnership with someone new. On that November Tuesday seven other states voted in

 

constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. “Findings have shown a slight increase

 

in those who favor some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.” (America’s Changing

 

Attitudes toward Homosexuality, Civil Unions, and Same-Gender Marriage: 1977-2004, 2007) 

 

Those that opposed Proposition 107 tapped into that segment of society that could have been

 

affected. Their argument had enough believers that the ill conceived Proposition 107 was not just

 

a gay issue but touched society as a whole to bring about its defeat. 

 

   

 

References

 

Avery, A., Chase, J., Johansson, L., Litvak, S., Montero, D., & Wydra, M. (2007, January).       America’s Changing Attitudes toward Homosexuality, Civil Unions, and Same-Gender Marriage: 1977-2004. Social Work, 52(1), 71-79. Retrieved January 23,2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

     .

Azmarriageamendment.com. (2006, September 10) Retrieved January 10, 2008, from AZMARRIAGEAMENDMENT.COM Web site: http://www.azmarriageamendment.blogspot.com

 

Belge, K (2006, November 08). Gay marriage arizona – the fight for gay marriage in arizona. Retrieved January 10, 2008, from About.Com Web site: http://about,com

 

Civil unions and gay marriage. (January,2007) Retrieved January 10, 2008, from The Center For Arizona Policy Web site: http://www.azpolicy.org

 

Crawford, A (2006, November 2006). Consistent message doomed prop. 107. Retrieved January 10, 2008, from azcentral.com Web site: http://www.azcentral.com

 

Herrod, C (2006, November 15). Statement regarding proposition 107. Retrieved January 10,  2008, from Famil facts Arizona Web site: http://azpolicy.org

 

“How to get seniors on our side.” The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 14.7 (January-February, 2007): 12(1) General File Gale. University of Phoenix – main account. Retrieved January 10, 2008. (Document ID: A157255666

 

Marriage protection amendment. January, 2007) Retrieved January 10, 2008, from The Center For Arizona Policy Web site: http://azpolicy.org

 

 Scarpinato, D Arizona daily Star (2007, March 3). Gay-marriage opponent advises allies to be realistic: [Final Edition]. Arizona daily Star, p. B1 Retrieved January 19, 2008 from Business Dateline database. (Document ID: 1241374961).

 

S.D. voters reject anti-abortion proposal; Arizona says no to ban on same-sex marriage. (2006, December). Contemporary sexuality, Retrieved January 23, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

 

Stovall, C (2006). The truth about pending marriage amendments. Retrieved January 10, 2008, from Alliance Defense Fund Web site: http://www.alliancedefensefund.org

 

Ufford-Chase, R (2006, November 04). An op-ed prop 107 in arizona. Retrieved January 10, 2008, from U-C: What I See Web site: http://www.what-i-see.blogspot.com

 

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