Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for November, 2008

Today Is The Day

Jim Burroway

November 4th, 2008

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New York Times on Proposition 102

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2008

The New York Times looked into Arizona’s Proposition 102, noting that this is the second time in two years in which Arizona voters are being asked to vote on a so-called “marriage amendment.”

Religious conservatives were deeply embarrassed when Arizona became the first in the nation to say no to divisive politics, so they’re throwing everything they have to keep from being embarrassed a second time — turning this year’s attempt into an almost wholly Mormon-funded and managed campaign, driven by their rather unique beliefs in “Celestial Marriage.”

Prop 102 supporters claim that the marriage amendment is needed to “protect marriage from activist judges.” What they fail to say however is that Arizona’s “activist judges” already ruled on this. The Arizona Supreme Court, as recently as 2004, already ruled on Arizona’s 1996 state law which already defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, and unanimously upheld that law. From the Times article:

“Their claim that we have to protect marriage from attack is ridiculous, because there’s no such attack,” said State Representative Kyrsten Sinema, a Phoenix Democrat and chairwoman of Arizona Together, which opposes Proposition 102. “It’s a fake threat.”

The LDS church has played a predominant role in fundraising for the “yes” campaign, and their massive coffers threaten to completely re-shape politics in Arizona. Opponents to Prop 102 are being outspent by more than 10-to-1. While many activists are feeling abandoned by national LGBT activists in this second battle, many of us are still optimistic:

Still, many gay rights activists in Arizona are hoping for a repeat of 2006, when most everyone was surprised by the defeat of the effort to bar same-sex marriage.

Jason Cianciotto, the executive director of Wingspan, which serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Tucson, said he vividly remembered watching the 2006 returns come in.

“I called a colleague and I said ‘I think we might pull this out,’ and she said, ‘If we do, I’ll eat my hat,’ and lo and behold we won,” Mr. Cianciotto said of the 2006 vote. “And I look forward to skeptics eating their hats this time as well.”

People often dismiss Arizona as a backwards, conservative state. They don’t know Arizona. The Arizona brand of conservatism is best exemplified by Mr. Conservative himself, former Sen. Barry Goldwater. He was conservative to his core, a conservatism that valued individual liberty above all else. Remember him saying, “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”? He lived it, and was an ardent supporter of equal rights for everyone — and LGBT rights in particular.

“The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they’re gay,” Goldwater asserts. “You don’t have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that’s what brings me into it.”

That is Arizona.

A Personal Plea Against Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 30th, 2008

Karen Kressley live in the retirement community of Green Valley, AZ. She and her husband raised four children in what she calls a “heterosexual home environment.” Except one of their boys wasn’t heterosexual. At age 16, he tried to take his own life. He survived, and in counseling a few weeks later, he came out as gay, and had felt this way since he was five or six:

My mind flashed back to little girl crushes I’d had on boys in the early 1950s. I did not have to keep these feelings a secret. Now, I realized, our son had been holding his feelings secret for a long time, while trying to pretend to himself and to us that he could be straight.

Our ignorance nearly cost us the life of our child. Regrettably, the message our son received in his “heterosexual home environment” was a distinct “Only Straight People Accepted Here.” My husband and I had so much to learn and unlearn.

The tragedy of Prop 102 is that it reinforces that same message on a wider scale: only straight people accepted here.

I am appalled by Proposition 102, a second attempt (a similar initiative failed in 2006) to single out our GLBT citizens of Arizona for exemption from living out their dreams… The sin is not in whom one loves. The sin is with those who want their narrowly defined religious beliefs enshrined in the Arizona Constitution.

Proposition 102, if passed, will set a dangerous precedent and will only further serve to marginalize our equally deserving GLBT citizens.

We are down to our last week. Please give as generously as you can.

Arizona - Vote No On Proposition 102 - Again!

Marriage Amendments Tearing LDS Congregations Apart

Jim Burroway

October 26th, 2008

According to a recent Salt Lake Tribune article, the church’s marriage campaigns are taking a heavy toll on local congregations.

The Mormon Church’s campaign to pass so-called “marriage amendments” in California and Arizona is the most vigorous political campaign they have ever waged. LDS leaders have tapped into every resource: their member’s income data from tithing rolls, phone trees, e-mail lists, and other appeals. With continued urging from among the highest prophets of the church, many LDS members consider their calls a directive from God and a test of their faith.

Those who disagree with the church’s stance on these propositions say that they are made to feel unwelcome in their wards. Some have avoided church services during the election campaign, and some have resigned, while others face excommunication. Others still are actively opposing their church’s activities because they believe the church’s active campaign mocks their church’s theology.

Even some of those who favor the ballot measures are put off by their church’s zeal:

“I do expect the church to face a high cost – both externally and internally – for its prominent part in the campaign,” said LDS sociologist and Proposition 8 supporter Armand Mauss of Irvine, Calif. He believes church leaders feel a “prophetic imperative” to speak out against gay marriage.

“The internal cost will consist of ruptured relationships between and among LDS members of opposing positions, sometimes by friends of long standing and equally strong records of church activity,” Mauss said. “In some cases, it will result in disaffection and disaffiliation from the church because of the ways in which their dissent has been handled by local leaders.”

Californians Against Hate: LDS Bankrolling CA, AZ Marriage Amendments

Jim Burroway

October 22nd, 2008

Californians Against Hate released figures yesterday that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS, aka the Mormons) have contributed $17.67 million (77%) to support passage of Proposition 8 in California. Additionally, the group reports that Mormons have contributed almost all of the $6.9 million to pass Proposition 102 in Arizona. The group did not give an exact figure for Arizona.

According to the Advocate:

[Fred] Karger said Californians Against Hate came up with the figures by cross-referencing donor information from the California secretary of state with Brigham Young University alumni lists, church memberships, and other personal documentation that could identify Mormon Church members. He said the surge in support has been an attempt to boost the church’s social standing among the greater religious community.

“For whatever reason, they’re trying to get some respect from other religions,” he told The Advocate Tuesday. “They’ve always been looked down upon by the Christians, the Catholics, and evangelicals.”

Success with the marriage amendment would give the church credibility, Karger said.

We are in a very tough fight against a formidable opponent. Please give as generously as you can today.

Florida and Arizona Anti-Gay Activists Use Same Media Company

Jim Burroway

October 20th, 2008

Remember those nearly identical television commercials running in Arizona and Florida in support of those states’ proposed “marriage amendments”? The Miami Herald has noticed them as well:

Bloggers have pointed out that new ad uses many of the same images and the same format as an ad running in Arizona. Arizona and California are also deciding whether to pass a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman in November. Both the backers of Florida’s Amendment 2 and Arizona’s Proposition 102 hired the same media company, Stemberger said, but he said the fact that the ads were similar is “irrelevant.”

We posted both of those “irrelevant” ads alongside each other so you, too, can marval at the coincidences.

Arizona Republic Says No to Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 20th, 2008

This is huge. The Arizona Republic is the state’s largest, most influential newspaper. It is also generally a conservative one. But in this morning’s edition, the editorial board of the Republic strongly urges that Arizona voters reject Prop 102. And they did so in surprisingly strong terms:

One of the best arguments against a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is this: Secretary of State Jan Brewer blocked ballot language that would have told voters that state law already prohibits such marriages.

If voters were clear on existing law, many might decide there’s no reason to adopt the amendment.

The Republic also doubts the sincerity of the “Yes” side’s claim that this is a “simple” amendment:

Refusing to recognize another state’s contracts brings up federal constitutional issues. What about other types of same-sex legal partnerships?

Lawyers could use up a lot of billable hours parsing the exact meaning of “union” and “marriage.”

Arizona must get beyond the acrimony fueled by the fight over Proposition 102.

Arizona could use strong advocates of marriage. They should spend their time and energy hunting for real ways to shore it up. Proposition 102 is a needless distraction. Voters should reject it.

The Republic joins these other Arizona newspapers in urging Arizona voters to reject Prop 102:

The fight isn’t over, nor is it won. We can defeat this so-called marriage amendment again, but only with your help. Our opponents are on track to raise more than ten million dollars, and if they win this time, they will most assuredly decide to go after California again in a couple of years. We need to send a message: when voters say no, they mean it. They’re not dumb.

Please give as generously as you can today.

Arizona Daily Star Endorses No on Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2008

The Arizona Daily Star this morning urges its readers to vote no on Prop 102:

Proposition 102 is a divisive, discriminatory initiative that would threaten to erode the rights of same-sex couples if approved.

Arizona voters rejected a similar — though more far-reaching — proposition in 2006.

Furthermore, this proposition isn’t needed because state law already defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The state law has been challenged and upheld in court.

We see Proposition 102, fundamentally, as an attempt by conservatives to legislate morality. We urge a “no” vote on Proposition 102 and hope we don’t see a similar measure in 2010.

The Arizona Daily Star joins these newspapers in opposing Prop 102:

Yuma Sun Opposes Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2008

The Yuma Sun recommends voting no on Prop 102:

For a shameful period of time in our nation, interracial marriage was forbidden. We now know that was abominably wrong. That illustrates, however, the dangerous path one treads when you allow the government to define “proper” marriage.

It is best to keep the government as far removed from marriage as possible, and we therefore cannot support Proposition 102, or the statutory limitation that currently exists.

The Sun joins these Arizona newspapers in opposing Prop 102:

Arizona and Florida Anti-Gay Forces Sharing TV Commercials

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2008

The video at top is the pro-Amendment 2 ad that has been unveiled for Florida. The video on the bottom is the pro-Prop 102 ad which has been running in Arizona for the past three weeks. Just for grins, click to play both of them at about the same time (as quickly in succession as you can at least) and see if you can spot the differences. There are a few, obviously reflecting the geographical and ethnic differences between the two states, but the similarities are startling.

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[Hat tip: Tucson Observer blog]

Mormons Petition LDS Leaders Opposing Anti-Gay Political Activities

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2008

A group of about fifty Mormons presented stacks about 300 letters and a petition to officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yesterday opposing the church’s efforts in support of Proposition 8 in California.

The letters were bundled in fifteen stacks and wrapped in pink ribbons, to be split among the Mormon Church’s three-man First Presidency and twelve apostles. The group sang the Mormon hymn “As I Have Loved You, Love One Another” during the event.

The protesters also deposited several manila envelopes containing signatures on the petition. It asks the LDS Church to stop “political organizing efforts and financial support of attempts to use the government to restrict the secular and religious rights of gay and lesbian individuals and publicly retract their request that members of the LDS Church support such measures.” The group also delivered bunches of carnations representing people they say have lost their lives in the gay marriage debate. They were referring to suicides by gay Mormons.

“We urge LDS leaders to read these letters and listen to their words,” said Andrew D. Callahan, an LDS high priest in Nebraska, who organized an Internet petition drive for Mormons who oppose the amendment known as Proposition 8.

Callahan, you may recall, faces a disciplinary hearing for charges of “conduct unbecoming a member of the church and … apostasy.” That hearing was originally scheduled for September, but has been put off until after the elections. Callahan runs the web site Signing For Something, which features several statements from fellow Mormons opposing the church’s efforts on behalf of so-called “marriage amendments” in California and Arizona.

No Longer Silent: Arizona Clergy Against Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 17th, 2008

A large coalition of Phoenix-area clergy called No Longer Silent has released this video urging Christians to vote against Proposition 102, Arizona’s so-called “marriage amendment.”

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Damaged “Yes on 102″ Signs in Phoenix Area

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2008

I got a phone call last night from a reporter from Phoenix’s ABC15, telling me that a spokesperson for the ‘Yes” side for Prop 102 says that more than a hundred of their campaign signs were vandalized. Obviously, everyone here at No on Prop 102 condemns such vandalism. While we are happy to engage in a vigorous debate on the issues, vandalism has no place in rational debate.

University of Arizona President Emeritus Opposes Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2008

An op-ed by University of Arizona President Emeritus Peter Likins appeared in Saturday’s Tucson Citizen urging everyone to vote against Prop 102:

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.

You can read the rest of the op-ed here.

Arizona Together’s TV Ad Against Prop 102

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2008
YouTube Preview Image

Arizona Together has begun showing these ads around the state to drum up opposition to Prop 102, the so-called “marriage amendment.” It costs about $375 to air one ad on one television station. So by my calculation, this means that:

  • $375 pays for one television spot,
  • $750 pays for two spots,
  • $1875 pays for five spots…

Okay, so you get the picture. And even if you can’t afford a triple-digit contribution, every little bit helps. Even a tenth of a television spot will make a difference when bundled with nine others.

Arizona became the first in the nation to defeat one of these so-called “marriage amendments.” We can do it again, but only with your help. It’s important, because if we lose in Arizona, then they will have gotten the message that they can take other victories away from us simply by coming back again and again.

Please don’t let that happen. Give generously to Arizona Together today.

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