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AZ Governor pushes vote on gay marriage in '05

Governor Janet Napolitano (l) has homo-hating AZ Senate President Ken Bennett squirming over a possible 2005 amendment vote on gay marriage.

The Republicans in Arizona are furious because Governor Janet Napolitano is challenging them to put a state consitutional amendment to ban civil marriage for gays to a public vote this year, instead of November 2006 (which is what they want. This seems like a game of political chicken, since putting this to a vote, no matter what year, is a chance to permanently add discrimination to the state’s constitution. (Arizona Republic):

Napolitano’s idea, which would require a special election in 2005, will inject a new twist into a divisive debate that is sure to resonate at the Capitol during the legislative session that starts Monday.

In November, conservative social activists and key lawmakers said they would pursue a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in Arizona. The popular thinking in Republican circles is to put the measure on the 2006 ballot, which includes the election for governor, a U.S. Senate seat and every statewide office.

Republicans quickly chastised Napolitano’s move as a political ploy to keep a gay marriage referendum off the 2006 ballot because it could bring more conservative voters to the polls.

“This is political chicanery. She doesn’t want it on the ballot in 2006 because it brings out the wrong people for her,” said Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott. “It’s not so much urgent as it is important. To spend about $3 million in taxpayer money to have a special election when far fewer people will vote is wrong.”

Sen. Ken Cheuvront, one of two openly gay state lawmakers, said the same-sex marriage ban is pure politics.

“The reality is that Republicans are doing this to embarrass her (Napolitano),” said Cheuvront, D-Phoenix. “By them waiting until 2006, it shows their hypocrisy. This will be a very contentious issue, no matter when it happens.”

Members of Arizona’s gay community said they view such a referendum as an infringement on their rights.

“It’s ridiculous and hypocritical. . . . This is not about gay rights; it’s about human rights,” said John Duncan of Tempe.

Former Republican lawmaker Steve May, who is gay, said the whole issue of banning same-sex marriage is “downright silly.”

“The intent of this is to influence the outcome of the 2006 governor’s race,” May said. “If this makes the right-wingers happy, good for them. But there are so many more important issues to tackle.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding