Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
State Capitol News

Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Prepare AZ Voter Campaign

Hoping to create a change in attitudes, various civil rights groups are taking the first steps this morning to convince voters that letting same-sex couples wed in Arizona would be a good thing. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

By a 56-44 margin, Arizonans approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman.

But, Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign said a lot has changed in the last 5 years. "We've seen across the country great changes in public opinion on this issue," Guequierre said. "For example, Wisconsin in 2006 passed a similar amendment, and yet this past year elected the first openly gay senator in history."

Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, which championed the 2008 vote, dismissed that as meaningless. She said people support candidates for their stances, not their sexual orientation. The aim of the coalition is to bring support for gay marriage in Arizona to where they're confident enough to spend time and money to seek repeal of the 2008 amendment in 2016.

But, Herrod is already laying the groundwork to make the debate more personal for voters than just questions of equal treatment for gays under the law. She cited a federal court ruling from Massachusetts which threw out a lawsuit by parents upset about reading materials for their child. "Books promoting same-sex marriage were required reading for 6 year olds and parents had no rights," she said. "Regardless of where you are on the marriage issue, talking to your children about same-sex relationships should be reserved for the parents when a child's only 6 years old."

A poll earlier this year shows 55% support allowing same-sex marriage, with 35% opposed.