Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rainbow Foot Soldiers Statement on Arizona Civil Partnerships By Buck Bannister and Sandra Senecal

Rainbow Foot Soldiers sympathizes with those who wish to advance the cause of LGBT equality. With recent losses in both California and Arizona this election cycle many of us feel a desire to do something positive for the community. Recently, we submitted a list of questions to Mr. Phillip Cotton the major backer of the measure in order to clarify statements made by him about his proposal.

To date, Mr. Cotton has yet to respond to our very simple questions. Particularly, we were concerned about the far reaching claims of the proposal including that it would provide equal access to employer backed health insurance for partners. As the New Jersey Commission reported, employers continually use the DOMA and ERISA statutes to segregate their LGBT employees in Civil Unions. We also questioned his statements on the measure insuring immigration status for same-sex partners, again since these are Federal laws it seems far-fetched to think that a state law would have any effect.

It appears from study and consultation with other groups that this proposal is based, in large part, on a model of the law passed in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the political structure of the United States is quite different and these differences have not been taken into account in the wording and marketing of this measure.

Finally, the Right Wing has already expressed their opposition to the Civil Partnerships proposal and vowed to turn out their base should it make the ballot in 2010. At this time, as we note the swing in the political climate of Arizona where native son, John McCain nearly lost to a liberal Democrat in November. We feel the timing of this could be disastrous as we try to elect LGBT friendly legislators. Early analysis indicates McCain's own Senate seat could be in jeopardy as well. Providing a flash point issue that is unlikely to pass could derail other gains in state and even national races. Traditionally, LGBT rights issues have been used by the Religious Right to swing elections by mobilizing their base. This time, a member of our own community will be providing the ballot initiative for them to rally around.

We continue to support full and equal access to Civil Marriage for all LGBT people. Were this proposal to actually be a step on that road we would happily get behind it. However, we feel that the proposal and the reticence of the backers to accept input, answer legitimate concerns, and otherwise not be completely honest with the community about the flaws of their proposal make it necessary for us to oppose this measure and urge all LGBT people of conscience and their allies to do the same. Our day is coming, we must fight on for full equality and inclusion in our great society.

(Rainbow Foot Soldiers was created to provide direct action and engagement on matters relating to the LGBT community in Arizona and elsewhere. Eschewing “checkbook activism” the group actively works to promote direct action through protests, neighborhood canvassing, visibility, and civic engagement. For more information, visit rainbowfootsoldiers.com.)

No comments: