Backers of AZ gay marriage ban raise $6.9M
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.