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Arizona: You can visit, but you won't want to stay

Cities and communities in Arizona are courting gay travel dollars, but the welcome only goes so far. (365gay):

Phoenix, Tempe and other Arizona communities are reportedly preparing to launch ad campaigns designed at attracting LGBT tourism. City tourism officials are preparing to sit down with the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to map out a strategy, the Arizona Republic reports.

The chamber already offers an 89-page guide for gay visitors. Tempe has already launched its gay marketing campaign. The strategy began three years ago when the Tempe Convention & Visitors Bureau began to research the gay market. The bureau later joined with area hotels and launched a gay tourism web site and an ad campaign in the gay media.

The gay travel market is worth an estimated $65 billion annually.

That said, this is also a state that bans same-sex marriage, and has an amendment up this year. Its text:

To preserve and protect marriage in this state, only a union between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage by this state or its political subdivisions and no legal status for unmarried persons shall be created or recognized by this State or its political subdivisions that is similar to that of marriage.

Bush-humping McCain and Protect Marriage Arizona chair Lynn Stanley smile with glee in support of the petitions in support of the gay-bashing amendment.

Why should gay people from around the country spend any hard-earned money in a state that is going to vote to make its own gay residents second-class citizens? At this point, polls show that folks aren’t completely sold on the amendment because of its restrictions on partnership rights, but the wingers are working hard. (AZ Republic, in Sept 2005):

The poll of 390 voters done last week found that 60 percent are likely to oppose the Protect Marriage Arizona initiative if it makes the November 2006 ballot. Only 33 percent said they would vote for it, and the other 7 percent were undecided.

But check out the same paper’s polling in October 2005:

A new statewide poll done by The Arizona Republic indicates most voters would support a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but the survey didn’t touch on the most controversial part of the ballot measure: denying benefits to unmarried couples.

The Republic poll of 600 Arizonans found that 57 percent are likely to back an initiative defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman if it makes the November 2006 ballot. Only 37 percent said they would vote against it; 6 percent were undecided. The poll, with a margin of error of about 4 percentage points, says the idea of a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages is popular with voters when not linked to wording that may prohibit cities, towns and counties from giving legal status to unwed couples.

AZ Blenders out there — what’s the state of things now?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding