Saturday, June 28, 2008

Equality Arizona's Statement On The Marriage Vote: By Mark R. Kerr

PHOENIX - Lobbying valiantly against SCR (Senate Concurrent Resolution) 1042 was Equality Arizona the statewide LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights organization, which issued the following statement after the debacle of a debate and subsequent vote:

Equality Arizona Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones and Public Affairs Director Sam Holdren issued the following statement to supporters last night following the Senate’s action to force Arizonans to vote yet again on another constitutional amendment to define marriage:

“We just got back from the state Capitol, where the Senate voted to force another constitutional amendment to define marriage on the ballot. What happened tonight was disgraceful, but that doesn't change the fact that we will be facing another anti-LGBT amendment this November. It's true. The Arizona Legislature caved to the coercion of a little-known group, the Center for Arizona Policy, led by an extremist fundamentalist -- Cathi Herrod. The Legislature ignored the people of Arizona, who already voted down a similar amendment. The Senate approved Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1042 tonight, and they broke the rules, along with the sanctity of the Senate, to do so.

“Tonight's debate was intense for everyone on the Senate floor and those of us watching in the gallery. But what happened to our openly-Gay and Lesbian Senators by their colleagues was absolutely disgusting. Senate extremists strategically broke the rules of the Senate, which govern the processes for discussion and voting on bills. During a filibuster-like discussion on another bill during Committee of the Whole, Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor (R-22) and Majority Whip John Huppenthal (R-20), among others, devised a scheme with committee chairman Jack Harper (R-4) to outright violate the rules of the Senate and the rights of Senators Aboud and Cheuvront.

“In the middle of their discussion, Senator Harper turned off the microphones of Senators Paula Aboud (D-28) and Ken Cheuvront (D-15) and called on the Majority Leader to make a motion. Then, when Senators Aboud and Cheuvront loudly called for a Point of Order several times, even walking to the front desk where Senator Harper sat, he deliberately ignored their calls. To add insult to injury, these people attempted to justify their actions, even after the Senate President and other Senators admonished them for deliberately breaking the rules. Tonight's actions of these and other Senators have forever tainted that body, and it's important that we all let the people of Arizona know how these individuals acted so unethically.

“In the end, it was Senators Aboud and Cheuvront who gave the most impassioned remarks ever heard on the floor of the Arizona Senate. Senator Aboud spoke eloquently about the irrational fear Senators were expressing by their yes vote, asking, "Do I scare you?" She talked about family values that matter, like love, caring for elder parents and hospital visitation rights, and reminded her colleagues that these are all rights currently denied to people who cannot marry.

“After listening to Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-5) describe what she considered her moral superiority to protect families citing civilization from the 18th century and how same-sex marriage will signal the end of civilization as we know if today, Sen. Cheuvront hit the majority hard when he defined the many ways in which the integrity of the Senate was lost today.

“Accurately listing the many ways in which the legislative process was prostituted for political gain, Sen. Cheuvront admonished fellow Republican Senators by exposing the tactics of the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP). This sentiment was echoed by Senate President Bee, who pointed out the extreme measures that CAP used to secure votes, while he was explaining his vote on the bill.

“Today's Senate session was the culmination of not just a battle over a bill introduced at the beginning of the session in January but in fact was the end result of CAP's tantrum over the defeat of Prop 107 in 2006. Having lost this session on several other bills, including abstinence-only, abortion, school vouchers and a number of other issues, CAP needed this win to fill their coffers. No one can deny this bill was nothing more than a referendum on the LGBT community – a political fundraiser to fuel the anti-Gay industry in Arizona.

“Both Sen. Cheuvront and Representative Steve Gallardo sent messages to those in both chambers, stating those who would vote for this divisive measure may not be very secure in their positions after this session and once voters realize how abusive and out of touch they really are.

“No doubt we will see a mix of emotions from anger to sadness, and the worst part is the backlash of violence that often accompanies these actions. As a community we must unite like never before. Our resolve must be unwavering to change the faces of those who cast votes that affect so many lives.

“We at Equality Arizona are incredibly proud of those who stood with us throughout this session. Our allies in the Legislature who provided leadership, encouragement and strategic advice were invaluable. We owe a debt of gratitude to Reps. Kyrsten Sinema, Linda Lopez, Robert Meza, Steve Gallardo and others. In the other chamber our heroes are Sens. Paula Aboud, Ken Cheuvront, Debbie McCune-Davis, Jorge Luis Garcia and Meg Burton-Cahill.

“In addition to elected officials many individuals and organizations stood by us throughout this process. As Sen. Cheuvront said in his remarks, this kind of experience divides friends and foes very quickly. We are truly humbled at the number of allies from around the state and every walk of life that emerged to assist with strategy. A heartfelt thank you goes to the many supporters that helped build messaging and programs that allowed us to do this work.

“We will regain our footing, strengthen our resolve and decide collectively – as a statewide movement for equality - the ways in which we will turn this experience into one which empowers Arizona voters to create a fair and just society.

“Despite an amazing process, coercion and corruption won out today in Arizona's Legislature. But tomorrow is a new day.”


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