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Backers of AZ gay marriage ban raise $6.9M

Friday Oct 3, 2008
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Supporters of a measure that would change Arizona’s constitution to ban gay marriage have raised $6.9 million, 17 times more than opponents have raised, according to figures released Thursday.

Supporters of Proposition 102 say the money they’ve gotten signifies broad support against gay marriage among Arizonans. Opponents say the measure is a waste of time and money, considering the state voted down a similar measure in 2006 and gay marriage already is illegal in Arizona.

Either way, the money gives backers of the ban an edge over opponents, said Fred Solop, a political pollster at Northern Arizona University.

"That’s an indication that there is obviously support for this ban," Solop said. "Clearly people feel very strongly about this issue - this is one of those moral issues that strikes at the very core of voters."

The ballot proposal, which goes before voters Nov. 4, would amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

"This is clearly an uphill battle," said Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization that donated $50,000 to opponents of Arizona’s measure.

"And if the proponents of this really cared about families, they would take the money they raised to help bail out Wall Street rather than trash loving gay and lesbian couples in Arizona."

Rouse called the effort to amend the state’s constitution hurtful and discriminatory, considering gay marriage already is illegal in Arizona.

Proponents see it differently, pointing to a recent California Supreme Court decision making gay marriage legal in that state.

"Laws can be changed all the time by politicians and judges," said Kelly Molique, a spokeswoman for the group supporting the measure. "What Prop 102 does is it gives the voters of Arizona a chance to decide if they want marriage to be defined as the union of one man and one woman for future generations."

The state’s law against gay marriage was upheld by a state appellate court in 2003.

This will be the second time in two years that voters will be asked to consider a gay marriage proposal.

In 2006, voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. But the measure also would have barred government entities from providing employee benefits to unmarried couples living together - also known as civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Analysts said that showed Arizonans support domestic partner benefits, not that they’re necessarily more tolerant of gay marriage than dozens of other states that have approved anti-gay marriage measures.

Backers of this year’s effort to ban gay marriage saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by not having to collect signatures to put the issue on the ballot - something they had to do in 2006. This time around, the Legislature voted to again put the matter to voters, only without any effects on domestic partner benefits.

Supporters have spent more than $3 million of their money so far, according to the Arizona Secretary of State.

Documents show much of that money paid for television advertising, mailers, consulting and public relations.

Meanwhile opponents say they’ve raised about $400,000 and spent under $40,000. They plan to start airing a television ad against the ban Monday for $300,000, said campaign chairwoman and state Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

A recent statewide poll of 976 registered voters found that 49 percent of those surveyed would support the proposal. Forty-two percent said they would vote against it, and 9 percent were undecided.

The poll was conducted Sept. 25 through Sept. 28 by KAET-TV and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Sinema said it’s good news that supporters have spent $3 million and that the poll showed less than 50 percent of those surveyed would support the proposal.

"It makes my point resoundingly clear," Sinema said. "Arizonans are not concerned about this issue; they’re concerned about how to pay their mortgages, they’re concerned about gas prices, they’re concerned about the economy. They’re not waking up in the middle of the night scared about whether the state statute on marriage is adequate."

Republican Rep. Warde Nichols, who supports the gay marriage ban, said he thinks Arizonans are afraid the courts will decide the issue.

Nichols said the poll shows that there’s more work to be done for proponents of the measure "but I think that at the end of the day, this will pass overwhelmingly."

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Center for Arizona Policy: www.azpolicy.org/

Arizona Together: http://www.aztogether.org

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2008-10-03 12:15:19

    The fact that the proponents of Prop 102 have raised almost $7 million seems daunting, until you peel back a couple layers of the onion.According to an estimate by their own spokesperson, 80-90% of their donations have come from Mormons who, as in California, have received a directive from their presidency in Salt Lake City to contribute all of the effort and means necessary to defeat this. Mormons make up about 4% of the population of Arizona. This hardly qualifies as "broad-based support."Second, they can raise all the money they want, but there is no productive way for them to spend it all. You just don’t need that much money to run a ballot initiative campaign in a state the size of Arizona.A study of every ballot initiative that has taken place in Arizona since statehood shows that a measure needs at least 60% Yes support at the start of the campaign season in order to still have 50%+1 on election day, as long as there was organized opposition present. At this time two years ago, the Yes side had 57%. By election day, only 48% voted yes. The fact that there is only 49% Yes support now, and the Vote No commercials haven’t started airing yet (they start Monday, Oct 6) bodes very well for us.We have a very effective, engaging, and memorable "Vote No Again" commercial that you can see at http://www.aztogether.org/media. Their commercial is saccharine and flaccid - it will give their base warm fuzzies but has no message for undecided or No voters. When the No message gets out, we’ll see the 20% drop in support characteristic of every other contested initiative.Arizona Together still needs donations to get the commercial on the air more times during the last few days leading up to the elections. All the big money has gone to California. Please help us out at http://www.aztogether.org/donate.Thank you!Dave in AZ


  • Equality Tax Revolt, 2008-10-03 23:41:15

    Am I the only one COMPLETELY DISGUSTED at how we are having to purchase our civil rights? Such a waste of valuable resources that could be spent on LGBT outreach and education, gay elderly, gay-straight alliances, etc. There are a million better uses for our hard-earned money.Neither presidential candidate is willing to treat our families and children equally; "We don’t exist" in their constitution. Fine.So when they ask for taxes, we will reply "no" - we don’t exist. When our children and families are treated equally, we will pay EQUAL TAXES. Not a penny until then. It boggles my mind how we lack so much self-esteem and respect for ourselves that we bend over and take it, paying our slave taxes, and not even AWARE how tax compliance sanctions this very discrimination!INSANITY. (I’ll still vote for Obama, since my choice must be ANTI-Republican).


  • Anonymous, 2008-10-15 00:30:37

    Using gay marriage removes the focus from the financial meltdown. The $700 + BILLIONS given to Wall Street and the banks are less important than something already been decided. Leave the Constitution alone! Deal with today’s CRISIS. Otherwise there won’t be a state constitution to amend, if its owned by the Saudis, Japan, Germany, Russia, Iran, and other ARAB money. The budget is being financed by foreign money. WORRY about that. Court cases and 2006 no vote is enough NOs already. VOTE no again and tell McCain and the rest of the pols, we, the people, can’t afford to bail-out more bankers and Wall St. Using gay marriage distracts people from the real issue. Will Social Security still be there for your sons and daughters? What happened to the money in your retirement accounts and 401K? This is a great distraction because it is a hot button issue the pols use all the time when they don’t want the people asking the hard questions of them!


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