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De-Gaying The Marriage Debate?

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2006

The Los Angeles Times this morning published an analysis of various marriage amendment outcomes across the country. Two quotes jumped out at me. The first is from Scott Duffy, who led Colorado’s campaign against their anti-marriage amendment:

“Our whole campaign was about explaining the commitment of same-sex couples who spend 15, 30 years together in a monogamous relationship, and the media here was wall-to-wall with stuff that was decidedly the opposite…. We had a tough sell,” Duffy said.

The fact is, they really did have a tough sell. Colorado’s proposal, unlike Arizona’s, was a “clean” proposal, defining marraige as the union of a man and a woman and ending there. There were no additional clauses trying to limit partnerships, civil unions, etc. This left Colorado’s Amendment 43 opponents with little choice but to talk about same-sex couples.

Things were different in Arizona, which brings me to the second quote. This is from Kyrsten Sinema, who led Arizona Together’s campaign against Prop 107, which continues to lose 48.6%-51.4% as the mail-in ballots are being counted:

Kyrsten Sinema, who chaired the campaign to defeat Arizona’s proposed ban, said Wednesday that opponents of the amendment focused on how the initiative would take benefits away from all unmarried couples — not just gays and lesbians.

I have no doubt that marriage opponents will seize on this as an admission of dishonesty or sneakiness. But the fact is these amendments really do take away benefits from all unmarried couples. It has already happened in Michigan, Ohio, and several other states. It took Arizona Together’s disciplined message to drive that point home.

But because the Arizona election turned on what Prop 107 would do to straight couples, it’s hard to argue that this outcome represents some sort of advancement for gay rights. In reality, we haven’t turned any corners. Instead, I think this is a perfect demonstration of how much work we really have ahead of us.

See also:

Center for Arizona Policy Concedes
Were Arizona’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Opponents Deceptive?
Arizona Is Still Going Strong
Appraising Arizona
Gay Marriage Is Still Illegal In Arizona



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