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6/19/2013 7:08:00 AM
Initiative drive seeks to put gay marriage on ballot
Erin Simpson and Warren Meyer explain their initiative drive launched Monday which would ask voters in 2014 to allow same-sex marriage, overturning a 2008 constitutional amendment.  (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
Erin Simpson and Warren Meyer explain their initiative drive launched Monday which would ask voters in 2014 to allow same-sex marriage, overturning a 2008 constitutional amendment. (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Arizonans may get another chance to decide of whether gays should be able to wed.

A Phoenix businessman and a retired Tucson attorney filed paperwork Monday morning seeking to put an issue on the 2014 ballot constitutionally defining marriage in the state as between any "two persons.' That would overturn the 2008 voter-approved amendment saying marriage is limited to "one man and one woman.'

In a bid to blunt possible religious opposition, the same measure spells out that no religious organization is required to officiate or solemnize any particular marriage "in violation of its constitutional right to free exercise of religion.'

Backers need 259,213 valid signatures by July 3, 2014 to qualify for the general election ballot that year. Erin Simpson, the retired lawyer and one of the organizers, said she hopes to collect close to 400,000.

Warren Meyer, the other key organizer, said he thinks attitudes have changed since 2008 when the ban on same-sex weddings was approved by a 56-44 margin.

"You see that in the polling data,' he said. And Meyer said Arizonans now have the benefit of seeing 12 other states and the District of Columbia which have allowed gays to wed.

"And we see how that's working out for them,' Meyer said.

"I think it's working well,' he continued. "And I think that gives people increased confidence to bring equal marriage to Arizona.'

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which led the successful 2008 campaign, said she's not impressed with the polling numbers.

"The vote that counts is the vote at the ballot box,' she said.

"All the talk about whether attitudes have changed about marriage definition or same-sex marriage is just that, it's talk,' Herrod continued. "We will be prepared to work with our allies to preserve Arizona's constitutional amendment defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.'

Simpson, however, said the organization, named Equal Marriage Arizona, is hoping to build a broad-based coalition and not rely solely on traditional gay-rights groups for backing.

She said she is a Republican and Meyer is a Libertarian. And Simpson said they will be announcing a Democrat to co-chair the effort with Meyer.

"We're reaching out to everyone,' Simpson said. "We think this is an issue that crosses ideologies and orientation.'

"The one challenge we have is obviously it's expensive,' Meyer said, estimating it will take "millions' to both pay circulators to get the issue on the ballot and then to run the public relations campaign. Meyer said his group has financial commitments from various sources but refused to disclose them, saying their names will become public when the required disclosure forms are filed.

The timing of the initiative drive is on purpose.

Meyer pointed out the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling on the legality California's Proposition 8. It repealed that state's laws allowing gays to wed.

He had thought that ruling might come Monday. More to the point, he thinks the court, rather than issuing a broad decision saying that gays nationwide have a right to wed, will come down with a narrower ruling saying that issue is to be left to each state.

That, Meyer said, is why Arizona needs to repeal the 2008 constitutional amendment.

Simpson said she and Meyer made a conscious decision to pursue allowing gays to wed rather than the less-sweeping -- and potentially more politically acceptable -- option of permitting civil unions without conferring the label of "married' on those involved.

"I think it's about equality,' she said.

"The only way to have equality is to have the same kind of legally recognized rights, responsibilities, obligations,' Simpson said. "What we're finding is that civil unions aren't exactly the same thing.'

Herrod said she does not see the fact that gay marriage has been approved elsewhere as helping proponents here.

"As we've seen in other states, when marriage is redefined, other rights are threatened including religious liberty rights,' she said. And Herrod said the fact that this initiative has what's billed as an opt-out allowing religious groups to refuse to solemnize or officiate at such ceremonies may be insufficient to protect religious freedoms.

Meyer said part of the reason he is hopeful is that Arizonans narrowly defeated the first ballot measure in 2006 to ban same-sex weddings.

But that initiative actually was broader than the question of marriage. It also would have barred the state from recognizing civil unions or anything that would have given the same privileges of marriage to same-sex couples. That resulted in the scaled-back 2008 measure dealing solely with marriage.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who did not take an official position on the 2008 measure when she was secretary of state, said Monday she does not know whether voter attitudes have changed since then.

"I don't have a pulse on that issue whatsoever,' she said.

But Brewer does have a record of sorts: Shortly after becoming governor she pushed through legislation to deny health insurance and other benefits to the partners of gay state and university employees. That overturned a personnel rule change advanced by Janet Napolitano, her predecessor.

A federal appeals court ruled the law illegal. The case remains on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, with the justices having put the issue on the back burner while they decide both the California gay marriage question as well as the legality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act which denies federal benefits and tax treatment to gay couples who are legally married in states that allow it.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Matthew Holmes

Re: "...individuality morality (perhaps we could call this one's conscience?)…"
Let's not because if we did, we wouldn't have an English word for the synthesis of direct experience, deduction, and received advice people need to negotiate any given situation on a daily basis. Consciences that don't include social conventions are demonstrably worthless in social situations.

Re: definitions of morality
Whether or not you believe people are born with a moral sense or in the existence of a power beyond natural law, I think St. Thomas Aquinas's view is the most useful to discussions of secular authority and/or religious reform. If, like the laws of physics, the principles of Right Action exist independent of what anyone thinks about them, then they can be studied impartially and our perceptions honed, adjusted, corrected as our knowledge expands.

This is particularly important to this discussion because theists do have a point: Moral relativism gives you nothing except a definition and a catalog of socio-theological codes. Why should they care about any code except theirs? What does Greek ethos have to do with anyone whose ancestors weren't Greek, or didn't even live in the Mediterranean? Judeo-Christians also have a razor. Their scriptures are correct: If the Tribes of Israel had espoused the ethos of the Babylonians, they'd have been wiped out before they got to Egypt. Their observations weren't off, either: Certain sexual practices can cause seriously debilitating defects and contagious epidemics. Why not just ban them all? Even Hobbes can't answer that one. Mills can't even start. Through the ages, only religious ethicists have urged their fellows to consult God directly before messing with natural impulses, and then keep checking to be sure they heard correctly.

Anyway, for yet another--far more scholarly--opinion on ethicists' opinions, try Bernard Gert's "The Definition of Morality." (

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Article comment by: Ryan Jensen

Hey Mary Jane! Great news!

Word is the Westboro Baptist Church folks are coming to Prescott to protest at the service for the fallen firemen!

Copy, paste and print this entire thread, highlight your contributions, hand it over to the Rev. Fred Phelps and I'm sure he'll welcome you into the fold!

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Article comment by: Harold Hammond

To Carl Nye, Sure, I'd like to know where you think they came from. Most Christain's don't have an explanation for this. I was taught they were the races created on the sixth day ?

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Mr. Holms, when you posted "The Greeks were the inventors of both morality and rationality,"
did you mean to imply the Sumerians, Chinese, Egyptians, Babylonians, Ethiopians, Hindus, Minoans, Persians, Celts, and etc. who predated the Classical Greeks had no concept of ethical behavior or epistemological theory? If so, from what source do you derive this allegation?

Ms. Jane, Sappho wasn't tolerated. She was celebrated. But I think the point here is that, in 600 BCE, homoeroticism didn't need toleration. Hellenic ethos made a distinction between platonic and erotic love, but the only erotic taboo was incest. Moreover, love and marriage weren't expected to go together. Marriage was an arranged civil, not religious, institution. There were a raft of social restrictions on the class, nationality, and number of marriage partners, but it didn't matter who else those partners frolicked with. In short, the Classical Greeks wouldn't know what the heck you're talking about. There's no evidence Socrates couldn't have married Phaedrus, but why would either of them have wanted to?

Ms. Heartman, I don't think gay activists want a religious vindication at the moment. I've seen some pro-gay articles, written by gays, that attempt to push active persecution back to Gilgamesh. While the modern notion marriage validates carnal desires may be driving some gays' support for "marriage equality," both the legal case and the PR is based on the fact our legal system discriminates against homosexuals as a class . The fact gays can be as moral or immoral as straights just muddies the push to get faith-based legislation off the books.

Mr. Elms, fill me in. What legal rights does Arizona currently deny gay couples? The scene has been shifting so fast I've lost track of what is purely social prejudice and what is law in any given State.

I share opposing commenters' concern for language such as "any two persons"--personally, being worried about perpetuating genetic defects and opening the door to Hindu-type child weddings, as well as wondering what's wrong with "any number of adult persons" if all members of that group are so inclined.

I'm also quite sure that if such pro-special-interest jargon were to pass, even with stipulations to the contrary, lawyers would find a way to attack religious organizations' "discrimination." As even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has said, in hindsight, relative to Roe v Wade, reform of social attitudes should originate within each state rather than being imposed by a blanket Supreme Court decision. To which, in my opinion, she should have added: Redefinition of religious institutions has to come from the churches, each in their own time and in their own way. Advocacy lawyers can be infuriatingly literal and obtuse.

So I think it's very important to know precisely what legal inequities need rectifying in Arizona, and then to go in with a scalpel, not a hatchet. I don't want Arizona to inadvertently add civil imperatives to a couple's right to choose. I don't want the law getting between a pastor and his parishioners. And I especially don't want pro-marriage absolutists bombing wedding chapels.

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Now that you have bludgeoned homophobia to a fare-the-well, Mr. Bond, can you help anti-fascist forces stem a tide of over-exuberance?

There is a very real danger that instead of removing some two-hundred years worth of discriminatory regulations from the codes, legislators will simply add more governing heterosexual response. As this legislation attests.

Posted: Friday, July 5, 2013
Article comment by: Carl Nye

Is anyone in the least bit curious where "the people living east of Eden" came from?

In a separate note, I agree with the Goatherder that @ makes no sense in these blogs.

Posted: Friday, July 5, 2013
Article comment by: Gray Grammarian

To The Goatherder:

Did you mean ampersand (&) or ampersat (@)? If the latter, I agree there are politer forms of address. Also, I think "To @ Etcetera" would be clearer.

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: @ @ Any Two Persons

Well, according to Genesis, after they were booted from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve went to dwell with the people living east of Eden. So I suppose their surviving child married one or more of them. Just as I suppose that's where Leah came from.

But this is such a quibble. Moses was working without an editor, and he didn't have Google.

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: Speaking of Dick Cheney

According to

In a statement issue by Cheney and his wife, Lynne, said, ”Our daughter Mary and her long time partner, Heather Poe, were married today in Washington, DC. Mary and Heather have been in a committed relationship for many years, and we are delighted that they were able to take advantage of the opportunity to have that relationship recognized.”
The former vice president added, “Mary and Heather and their children are very important and much loved members of our family and we wish them every happiness.”
Mary Cheney, 43, has given birth to a son and a daughter.

Would Mary Jane and John A. Bond care to comment on the Cheney family's moral values?

Would "Productive discussion" care to elaborate on it's theory of how homosexual marriages will undermine the institution of marriage--relative to this specific, widely public, instance?

Personally, I don't support Erin Simpson and Warren Meyer's citizens ballot initiative, which I believe the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on California's Proposition 8 has just rendered moot. It's another badly thought out piece of legislation that doesn't address the central issue of government jurisdiction in moral issues and does attempt to alter social conventions via fiat. A simple repeal of Arizona's 2008 constitutional amendment would clear the decks for a much needed examination of what government's role in interpersonal relations is intended to accomplish--and what civil regulation, if any, would actually achieve that goal.

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: homosexuals are

already trying to force their beliefs upon society. This is evident by the numerous lawsuits across the nation by homosexuals who want to force businesses/churches/individuals to perform or provide services to them which are contrary to their beliefs and values. Colorado a Christian baker is being sued for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same sex couple...same thing happening in Oregon...and all across the united states. Talk about intolerance. Changing the definition of marriage will only change words on will never change how people feel in their hearts.

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: John A. Bond

@Mary Jane [Jim]”

Being spiritually dead, as you are, I am not surprised that you fixate over the dead and dying.

The religious doctrine that underpins your determination to prevent same sex couples from enjoying the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts is dying an ignominious death.

The history or people like you who rely upon religious doctrine to deny to others their civil and legal rights are well established in America.

Ironically, it was because of religious persecution that so many fled from Europe to live in America. Their religious beliefs were being denied to them and they wanted the freedom to express their religious beliefs without societal and/or governmental oppression.

As a prophet, I perceive your response to my post to represent an expression of your persistent homophobia.

Apparently, whenever anyone disagrees with you concerning your perception of the properness of “Gay Marriage”, you are incapable of comprehending the post.

Therefore, allow me to delve into the deepest recesses of your delusional mind as depressing and dangerous as that is to do, to discover the source of your mental disturbance concerning the undermining of the “moral fiber” of America that you perceive homosexual marriage represents to the nation.

Obviously, you are obsessed with the notion that homosexuality undermines the very fiber of society, representing, as it does in your mind, an “abomination”.

I perceive this to be on your part based upon a religious belief that allows you to feel superior to anyone who engages in behavior deemed by you and your interpretation of Biblical authority to behave in any manner contrary to your interpretation of biblical law.

Therefore, I endeavored to present to your petty-minded and mean-spirited homophobic mind, an example of genuine moral turpitude that expressed real [as opposed to your fanciful and deranged concept of it] immoral behavior that undermines the spiritual fabric of our society.

Thus, I presented to you an example of egregious moral turpitude involving former President George W. Bush, [Bush II, the war criminal] and his co-conspirator, Dick Cheney that truly undermined the moral fabric of our society in violation of the founding document of America: the US Constitution.

That behavior led to the death of over 2.9 million innocent Iraqi men, women [many pregnant] and children [the truly innocent victims of war] and the displacement of over 2 million [with an “M”] others who are now refugees living in foreign countries.

Furthermore, because of the moral turpitude of Bush II, the war criminal, we are now dealing with revelations about the expansion of the National Security Agency [NSA] into massive and unprecedented domestic spying into the private and personal lives of American citizens.

By comparison, your obsession with the alleged “moral turpitude” of same sex couples engaged in loving relationships withers into insignificance and absurdity.

I comprehend that from your homophobic perspective, any person who engages in sexual behavior that you deem to be “deviant” based upon your personal religious beliefs, is engaging in some sort of perversion that undermines the moral fiber of the society.

However, as I endeavored to point out to you, the sexual proclivities of people of the same gender who are mutually/chemically/biologically attracted to each other, does not rise to the level of moral turpitude except in the perverse and perverted mind of a person such as yourself who is perpetually contemplating and obsessively focused upon the sexual orientation of others.

I fully appreciate the need you have to find any excuse to express moral superiority over others. This is a manifestation of profound feelings of inferiority on your part. Your insecurity over your own sexual orientation causes you to obsess over the sexual behavior of others.

Specifically, in your particular case, it stems from a state of personal suffering on your part from low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy that make it impossible for you accept behavior from others that does not comport with your own very limited conceptualization of the sexuality of human beings.

The appropriateness or inappropriateness of same sex marriage is something that should be left to the individual engaging in the alleged perverse behavior to assess for themselves.

You have no “moral” right to impose your personal beliefs about the behavior of others based upon religious doctrine. This is particularly true in a democratic society based not upon biblical law but upon democratic ideals expressive of respect for the civil and legal rights of others.

The ideals expressed in the preamble to the US Constitution were derived independent from religious doctrine. Most of the democratic principles expressed in the preamble derive from sources other than Biblical code.

As a matter of fact, few of the founding fathers expressed adherence to Christian doctrine and did not express fidelity to biblical law.

The ownership of fellow human beings under the brutal and barbaric practice of Slavery fully establishes the true nature of the founding fathers.

Contrary to assertions that America was/is a Judeo-Christian nation founded upon biblical code, nothing could be further from the truth.

Clearly, our constitutional republic was founded upon the rock of GREED [Get Rich Eradicating Everything Democratic] in pursuit of profit.

I believe GREED, biblically speaking, is one of the major seven deadly sins, is it not? Sometimes it is referred to as AVARICE.

Since, apparently , your obsession with homosexuality and the resultant homophobia it engenders in you stems from deeply held religious convictions that also demand from you, “judge not that ye be not judged” it is interesting to note that you feel compelled to so vociferously and repeatedly engage in such immoral behavior as the moral judgment of others.

I believe, and you may correct me if I err, that judging others is a mortal sin for which there is no salvation and you endanger your very soul by engaging in such behavior based upon the religious doctrine to which you ascribe that brings, for you, homosexuality into question.

Do not numerous bibles state that, “as ye judge, so shall ye be judged by your father in heaven”, or words to that effect?

I hope this post was helpful but somehow I seriously doubt it.

Anyway, good day to you anonymous sir or madam, man or woman, boy or girl, child or adult whichever you happen to be.

The infantile expressions of your homophobic ideation make me incapable of knowing, even as a prophet, to whom I am addressing this comment. Except, of course, that your homophobia evidences a deeply disturbed and troubled soul incapable of accepting others for whom they are regardless of whether or not you personally ascribe to their behavior.

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Article comment by: The Goatherder

What's with all the ampersands anyhow? I don't think those are really necessary. Want to address Mary, just write: Mary, followed by a comma or even a semi-colon. The ampersands are dopey. This isn't twitter.

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

@ John Annette Bond

To paraphrase the great Thomas Paine -

Trying to reason with someone (such as yourself) who has given up the use of reason is like trying to administer medicine to the dead

Contrary to your diatribes, every ill in the world is not the fault of Bush II, the war criminal and his co-conspirator Dick Cheney. Even if everything you say about them is true, it's not healthy to obsess the way you do.

Is there any liberal stereotype you don't fit?

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Article comment by: Matthew Holmes

@ Mary Heartman:

Mary, yep, there's individuality morality (perhaps we could call this one's conscience?) or lack thereof, and there are governing social mores. In the past social mores evolved among very localized tight-knit communities bound by blood and marriage or some other social pact. These social mores were the results of long processes and were very natural solutions, as opposed to the artificial and autocratic nature of modern policy making (regardless of whether issued by a dictator, democracy, oligarchy).

Here we have multiple cultural, ethnic, and social groups, all with different ideas and values competing for space in the political system. Modern nation-states do not offer much to hold folks together under such a scenario (excepts for the benefits they offer). Eventually these political institutions will wither and die and be replaced by something with more evolutionary staying power and more personal meaning for folks, like past tribal structures. We humans are inherently cultural and social and cannot survive for long without either. Right now we are living in a state of deprivation from either real culture or society, but I sure as heck wouldn't blame gays or gay marriage for this sad state of affairs.

All my opinion anyway, and you know what they say about opinions... :)

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Article comment by: Productive discussion

Pleased to see productive and rational conversation here.

@ Matthew, yes it does present a moral condundrum to say yes to homosexuality but no to incest or polygamy between willing partners.

And from a moral standpoint, it's important to remember what this initiative is promoting: "any two" people.

@ Mary, I define morality generally as the standard of what is considered right and wrong. Socially, culturally, and religiously, homosexuality at least until recently has been considered a sin by most people -- morally wrong.

The majority of us do subscribe to some form of Judeo-Christian theology, wherein homosexuality very specifically is immoral.

There are a number of good reasons for this including but not limited to the word of God, whatever you consider Him to be.

Regarding civil unions vs. marriage, great point. Personally I have no problem with homosexuals in a legal civil union getting all the financial and legal protections of married couples.

But again, that's not what this initiative is about. Those pushing this agenda want to impose a redefinition of marriage.

It's important to understand that traditional marriage in no way diminishes the idea of "equal marriage" because marriage is by definition a heterosexual institution.

This is no different than heterosexuals being denied equal access to elements and practices inherent in a homosexual lifestyle.

This is a two way street. How many homosexuals do you see supporting a "straight pride" agenda?

And regarding traction for how homosexuality undermines society, I suggest it does so by undermining the family.

Marriage is the social institution that enables the family, and family is the essential basis of any successful and enduring society.

From a societal standpoint, it is quite rational to conclude that a family comprised of a mother and father and their biological children is better, more functional, and more desirable than homosexual parents raising non-biological offspring.

Certainly there are exceptions, but remember we are talking about society in general.

And again this is about redefining of the institution of marriage.

To me, marriage is worth protecting as the enduring and honorable institution as it has been given to us by countless generations before.

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