Arizona Senate Breaks Own Rules To Pass Anti-Marriage Amendment

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2008

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate late yesterday broke its own rules to shut down debate and force a vote to place a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot.

According to Equality Arizona and the Arizona Daily Star, Sen Paula Aboud (D-Tucson) was engaged in a debate with Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D-Phoenix) on another tax bill in a move similar to a filibuster according to the Senate rules. During the debate, Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor (R-Gilbert) and Majority Whip John Huppenthal (R-Chandler), among others, devised a scheme with committee chairman Jack Harper (R- rural district 4) to violate the rules of the Senate and the rights of Senators Aboud and Cheuvront.

Barbara McCullough-Jones and Sam Holdren of Arizona Equality describe what happened next:

In the middle of their discussion, Senator Harper turned off the microphones of Senators Paula Aboud (D-28) and Ken Cheuvront (D-15) and called on the Majority Leader to make a motion. Then, when Senators Aboud and Cheuvront loudly called for a Point of Order several times, even walking to the front desk where Senator Harper sat, he deliberately ignored their calls. To add insult to injury, these people attempted to justify their actions, even after the Senate President and other Senators admonished them for deliberately breaking the rules. Tonight’s actions of these and other Senators have forever tainted that body, and it’s important that we all let the people of Arizona know how these individuals acted so unethically.

The chamber broke down into chaos for the next twenty minutes when]the matter was finally brought before Senate President Tim Bee (R-Tucson) for resolution. Bee, who had been trying to keep the proposed amendment off the calendar, lambasted the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), the right-wing lobbying group behind the marriage amendment, for what he described as their divisive tactics, hostility, coercion and threats. He then publicly buckled under the pressure and became the constitutionally-mandated sixteenth vote to placed the measure on the ballot.

Sens. Aboud and Cheuvront are the only two openly gay members of the Arizona Senate. After the shouting was over, Sen. Aboud spoke again to the Senate:

“I just don’t understand how my personal, private relationship between two people affects anyone else in this room?

“Get your love off my back,” Aboud said. “Is your relationship with your family so fragile that you’re threatened by me?”

Today was a shameful day in the Senate’s history under Bee’s weak leadership. Bee is running for Congress to try to replace Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson) in a congressional district which voted against the 2006 attempt to write discrimination into the constitution by a wider margin than did voters statewide (45.4% to 54.6% in CD8, versus 48.2% to 51.8% statewide). During his term in the Senate, Bee represented a district which also defeated Prop 107 a margin wider than the statewide tally (47.5% to 52.5%).

Yesterday may well have marked the end of Bee’s political career. And with his shameful display of cowardice under pressure, it is an end well deserved.


June 28th, 2008

Jim, after the November elections (or even after any primaries yet to happen) would you please update us on the careers of those 16, especially Bee, who defied their districts and voted for this disaster? It will be good to know that voting for such obviously discriminatory amendments are now career ending moves.

Steve Krotz

June 28th, 2008

This is an excellent piece. I also posted a piece on my blog but yours added info I didn’t include in mine. I am very happy to see this.

Obviously, we all need to work together not only to defeat this bigoted and homophobic Amendment but also to defeat the politicians who voted for it. “Gay Pride” is, once again, taking on a very important role in American politics. Not only for our own community but also for the perpetuation of the simple concepts of honesty, fairness and justice in the American political system in general.


June 28th, 2008

Funny, the “moral values” crowd are the ones always willing to behave immorally.

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2008


I’d be happy to do it. Believe me, I’ll be keeping a checklist.


June 28th, 2008

Well, I’m going to reproduce a link that John Aravosis posted a week or so ago. . .I think this little video sums up pretty much the mindset of the loons pushing these amendments:

Meanwhile, how about pushing a constitutional amendment removing some rights from dominionists for a change? The ir blatant attempt to legislate their religious beliefs as constitutional law over other rights of faith needs to be questioned at every turn. And, since they think their marriages are ordained by God, they really have no need for state-legislated special rights. Make their churches support their relationships in the same manner they demand ours be treated.

Jason D

June 28th, 2008

“Funny, the “moral values” crowd are the ones always willing to behave immorally.”

it’s very machiavellian, they don’t see it as immoral if you do it for god. You can lie about gays, break your own rules, do whatever you want, as long as it’s for Jesus, it doesn’t matter.


June 29th, 2008

Jason D,

My point exactly. It’s not even Machiavellian. It’s what happens when you become so irrevocably convinced that you’re on the “right” side that you’ll do anything to make sure that you win. They don’t see their actions as immoral because, in the grand scheme of things, they honestly think they’re doing the “right thing,” what God wants.

Ben in Oakland

June 30th, 2008

I don’t think it has anything to do with morals at all. It’s all aobut republican party politics. McSame is Arizonan, remember?


June 30th, 2008

Paula Aboud:

The video is a bit more dramatic. As Aboud spoke, people left the room.


July 1st, 2008

Arizona has a history on this issue, “protecting marriage.”
In 1931 they amended their marriage laws because with immigration they had fallen out of date:
“The marriage of a person of Caucasian blood with a Negro, Mongolian, Malay, or Hindu shall be null and void.”

So; John McCain is not really a maverick. He is an Arizona traditionalist after all…..

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