Those of you following the news about the proposed constitutional amendment in Arizona to prohibit same sex marriage will find the latest round of shenanigans very upsetting.
On Wedesday, Equality Arizona called on Senate President Tim Bee (R-30) to immediately form a bipartisan commission to investigate alleged illegal actions that took place on the Senate floor on the last day of this year's legislative session. In a letter delivered to Senator Bee's office today, Equality Arizona Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones contends that Senators Jack Harper (R-4) and Thayer Verschoor (R-22) deliberately broke Senate rules to deny openly-gay Senators Paula Aboud (D-28) and Ken Cheuvront (D-15) their rights, and that Senator John Huppenthal (R-20) may have been involved in developing the scheme.
In the five-page letter, McCullough-Jones cites audio, video and written transcripts of the hearing, which she says reveals that Harper, who was acting as the presiding officer at the time, wrongfully shut off the microphones of Aboud and Cheuvront in the middle of a debate. According to McCullough-Jones, Harper acknowledged his role in interrupting the debate and chose not to correct the situation. "Rather, he deliberately ignored their calls for corrective action and recognized Senator Verschoor, who was already poised and at his microphone to effectively kill the debate with his improper motions," wrote McCullough-Jones.
The actions in question took place during a debate on House Bill 2723 when the Senate was acting as the Committee of the Whole. The maneuver paved the way for a vote on Senate Concurrent Resolution 1042, a referendum that forces Arizona voters to once again vote on another proposed amendment to constitutionally define marriage.
Sam Holdren, Public Affairs Director of Equality Arizona, explains that "the Senate has already adjourned for the session, so their vote is binding. SR-1042 is going to be on the November ballot at Proposition 102. But we're fighting the actions that happened in the Senate on principle, because it upsets the whole democratic process."
The polling numbers on Prop 102 are very close. "They're in the lead right now," says Holdren, "but just barely. We definitely have a shot at defeating this. When the voters in Arizona find out the kind of tactics that the Center for Arizona Policy used to get this on the ballot, I think it will make a difference."
Don't forget that Arizona law already prohibits same-sex marriage. And a proposed constitutional amendment was defeated in 2006. "The voters in Arizona have already voted on this before," says Holdren. "But the legislation ignored them and put it back on the ballot."
The challenge for Equality Arizona is that a lot of attention and money has already been sent to California in order to help Equality California defeat a proposed constitutional amendment there. "It takes a lot of money to run an effective campaign," explains Holdren. "We know that a lot of people have already written checks and send them to California. But we're asking that people don't forget us here in Arizona, or forget our community members out in Florida for that matter."
You can support Equality Arizona by logging onto www.votenoprop102.com. If you live in Arizona, please consider volunteering. They need a lot of person power in order to pull this thing off by November, which is only 3 months away. If you can afford to donate, "please don't forget Arizona," asks Holdren. "We need your support now more than ever."