Monday, July 21, 2008

Proposition 102 Update

PHOENIX (Observer Update) - Openly Gay state Senator Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, has filed an ethics complaint against state Senator Jack Harper, R-Surprise, of disregarding Senate rules by conspiring to cut off debate to help speed a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.

According to reports and news accounts, Cheuvront’s complaint was filed Monday, July 21, calling for a reprimand of Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, for violating a rule on conduct of debate.

Senator Harper was acting as Senate chairman during a debate session the evening of June 27 - the final day of the legislative session - when he cut off what amounted to a filibuster against the proposal to put a same-sex marriage ban on the ballot.

In his complaint, Cheuvront says Harper acted improperly by stifling debate when he was obligated by the rules to protect the Senate's processes. Legislators expect citizens to comply with the state's laws, Cheuvront's complaint stated. "I believe that we must hold ourselves to an even higher ethical standard," Cheuvront said in an interview.

Harper did not immediately return a call for comment from The Associated Press. In a previous interview, he said that comments by Cheuvront and Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, were "dilatory" and that they had no right to retain the floor. He also said Cheuvront's complaint "appears to be choreographed" with efforts by a group of Gay activists to target him for election defeat.

Senator Harper also used the same approach in an oped piece published by the Arizona Daily Star July 17, railing against openly Lesbian state Senator Paula Aboud.

Harper's move to cut off debate by giving the floor to Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, put the Senate in an uproar for about a half-hour as Democrats and some Republicans complained.

Aboud and Cheuvront were trying to postpone or even prevent the vote on the marriage amendment. When asked by reporters about his actions Harper declined to say whether his direction to Aboud to turn off her microphone was intended to shut down debate on the other bills in order to accelerate a vote on the marriage resolution.

His move left Aboud and other opponents of the resolution fuming, and they and even some supporters of the resolution said the handling of the matter could poison relations in the chamber when lawmakers return for their next session. The marriage measure, which the Senate approved, is going on the November ballot.

(For a first hand account from state Representative Steve Farley, D-Tucson of what transpired that night on SCR 1042, click here.)

No comments: