Gay marriage proposal hangs in balance

The Associated Press

(This is a dispatch from the front lines in Arizona.

The legislature ends its session Monday – only one more day to go for the Repubs to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot, and the vote count indicates that they probably have a majority of one vote, if they manage to get everything to go their way.

Which has led to an incredible amount of procedural wrangling )PHOENIX – The fate of a proposed ballot measure on same-sex marriage in Arizona hung in the balance Friday as lawmakers scrambled to wrap up the current legislative session.

The proposal was narrowly defeated this week in Senate yet was scheduled for a reconsideration Friday. The measure is a top priority for social conservatives in the GOP-majority Legislature.

At mid-afternoon Friday, Republican Sen. Tom O’Halleran of Sedona confirmed that he was holding up consideration of the vote, saying he was determined to get fair treatment for several of his bills that needed final consideration by the Senate and House. One of his bills was later heard by the Senate.

The Senate’s two openly gay members, Democratic Sens. Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix and Paula Aboud of Tucson, debated other bills for long periods late Friday afternoon, apparently trying to stall long enough to prevent a vote on the marriage amendment.

But majority Republicans abruptly cut off debate on the other bills, interrupting Cheuvront and Aboud during a question-and-answer exchange and forcing the end of the debate period.

That touched off extended arguments on the floor, with Aboud and Cheuvront accusing the Republicans of violating Senate rules.

“You support breaking the rules,” Aboud told Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, a Gilbert Republican who made the motion that resulted in the debate cutoff.

Hard feelings were apparent.

Don’t come near me, turkey,” Aboud told Sen. Jack Harper, the Litchfield Park Republican who as debate chairman halted the debate session, when he left the rostrum and walked by her.

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