Saturday, October 11, 2008

No on 102: Keep government out of our private lives

(The following was written by Peter Likins, UA President Emeritus and co-chair of Vote No on Proposition 102 and published in the Tucson Citizen, October 11.)

We are at a critical juncture in time, nationally and in Arizona, obliged to confront crucial problems relating to such fundamental issues as the economy, education and health care.

These problems will not be solved until we learn to work together throughout society, especially in our governing bodies. Until our elected officials learn to search out common ground and build from a shared foundation, we will continue to founder on the rocks of conflicting ideologies such as those that divide and destroy the effectiveness of the Arizona Legislature.

Proposition 102 commits to the state constitution the definition of marriage that already exists in Arizona law as a union between one man and one woman. Passing this proposition will do nothing to change the law or to protect the sanctity of marriage.

(After nearly 53 years of a beautiful marriage, my wife and I are beyond the reach of state law.)
A similar proposition was rejected in 2006, but we are back again in angry conflict over an issue that seemed settled then.

What this proposition has done and will continue to do is inject religion into politics, splitting the people of Arizona as well as our legislators into bitterly divided camps with opposing views, which create personal animosities that become obstacles to the collaborations required by our more-central societal challenges.

Arizona has a budget deficit of more than $3 billion. Unless we change our ways, much of the burden of closing the budget gap will fall on our schools.

High-quality education, from preschool to postgraduate school, offers the key to our economic future.

In this increasingly competitive environment, it is vital to attract the best-educated and most-talented work force. The unnecessary intrusion into this election of ideologically driven Phoenix politicians with outside money will make Arizona less competitive, fostering a climate of intolerance and hurting our reputation and economy.

Arizonans believe as I do in respect for freedom and individuality. We cherish our open and affirming way of life here in southern Arizona.

We want our political leaders to address the important issues facing us, and stay out of our private lives. We want them to trust the people, who have already spoken on this issue.

Please join me in voting "no" on Proposition 102 - again.

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