Analysis: California Voters Are Rejecting Prop. 8
August 29th, 2008
Supporters of marriage equality got some good news last night when the results of the latest statewide poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California were released.
The telephone survey of 2,001 California adults, including 1,047 likely voters, reveals that Proposition 8 – the proposed constitutional amendment to bar same-sex couples from marrying — is losing badly. Among likely voters, only 40% plan to vote for the amendment, compared to 54% who say they will vote against it. The remaining 6% are undecided. (The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.)
Opposition to Prop. 8 doesn’t come exclusively from those who say they generally favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry. The sample was evenly split on that question - 47% of likely voters favoring marriage equality and 47% opposing it. Thus, consistent with other polls, some respondents who don’t personally support marriage equality nevertheless oppose enacting anti-equality legislation. Indeed, Prop. 8 is supported by only 69% of the likely voters who generally oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Prop. 8 backers tried to find a ray of hope in the PPIC data, noting that amendment supporters were more likely to say the outcome of the vote is “very important” to them - 57% versus 44% of amendment opponents.
In my latest post at Beyond Homophobia, I explain why the math behind this claim is flawed. I also discuss the poll findings in depth and consider their implications for the Proposition 8 campaign.
AZ Ballot Will Describe Prop 102 With Legally Accurate Language
August 27th, 2008
A headline like that should be a given, but — this being Arizona — one cannot always take such things for granted.
Thanks to a deal between Secretary of State Jan Brewer and Attorney General Terry Goddard, the November ballot describing Prop 102, Arizona’s latest anti-marriage amendment, will remind voters that Arizona law already bans same-sex marriage. This clarification is especially important this year with all the attention being given to California, where same-sex marriage is currently available. Not only is there intense national attention on California, but a large portion of Arizonans live in California media markets.
Similar language was placed on the ballot for a previous anti-marriage amendment in 2006. That amendment was defeated by nearly 3.6%, making Arizona the only state in the union to have turned back an attempt to further ban same-sex marriage in the constitution.
Prop 102 supporters have filed suit against Brewer and Goddard, demanding that any reference to state law be stripped from the ballot descriptions. The lawsuit, however, may be too late. The final go-ahead was given Tuesday night to start printing the publicity pamphlets, which will be sent to the home of every registered voter. The pamphlets, like the ballots themselves, will have the agreed-upon description.
Arizona has had a law banning same-sex marriage since 1996. That law also bans recognizing same-sex marriages conducted in other states. On October 8, 2003, a three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the Arizona Defense of Marriage law against a challenge brought by two men who were denied a marriage license by a court clerk. The Arizona Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal on May 25, 2004.
Supporters of Prop 102 have out-fundraised opponents by more than 150:1. Please support our campaign to defeat Prop 102 again.
Where Has Burroway Been?!?
August 26th, 2008
You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much lately. And the way things are shaping up, I won’t be posting much between now and the election.
Last week, I was selected to serve as co-chair of the Vote No on Prop 102 campaign. Vote No on Prop 102 is a broad based coalition of citizens working at the community level to conduct a grass-roots “retail” campaign to get out the vote and carry the message on Prop 102 to the different constituencies. We will be focusing our efforts on southern Arizona , but we are also interested in facilitating similar efforts elsewhere in the state.
The reason we’ve chosen to focus on Southern Arizona is threefold: 1) it’s where we are, 2) we haven’t been able to raise much money, and we need to make sure it is used effectively, and 3) Southern Arizona is where our greatest opportunity lies in defeating Prop 102. Let me explain.
In 2006, Arizona defeated a similar marriage amendment by 3.6 percentage points. Five counties voted to defeat the amendment, and the remaining ten voted to approve it. The largest margin of votes came from Pima County in Southern Arizona, which defeated the proposition by 42,806 votes, or 15.6%. That margin was large enough that even if all the other four counties which defeated the amendment had merely tied, the proposition would have still gone down by 18,532 votes state wide — 1.2% — on the strength of Pima County’s vote alone. Pima County was the only county to provide a large enough margin to guarantee defeat in 2006, and it is imperative that the grass-roots effort which worked to ensure that margin is repeated again in 2008.
This is not to say that working in other counties to defeat the amendment is not important. We are working alongside Equality Arizona on similar grass-roots efforts throughout the state. But based on voter data from 2006 and the successful grass-roots campaign that was waged throughout Southern Arizona, we feel that the anchor to another victory is in southern Arizona.
Nevertheless, we are also interested in supporting and facilitating grass-roots campaigns in whatever way we can elsewhere in the state, particularly in Apache, Coconino, Maricopa and Santa Cruz counties — all of which contributed to victory in 2006. We are already engaged with local efforts in several communities in Cochise county, and we believe there are similar opportunities in Yavapai and elsewhere. Our financial health will determine the extent of the support and resources we can extend throughout the state, but as you know, our finances are very poor at the moment.
We are busy formulating a campaign plan, we’re lining up some exciting allies, and we will have more information to share as the outlines of the campaign takes shape. We don’t have much time, and more critically, we have very little money. Please do what you can to help and contribute generously.
August 23rd, 2008
Remember when Arizona became the first and only state in the nation to defeat an anti-marriage amendment in 2006? I don’t know about you, but I’d that that this victory would be one worth preserving. But our national LGBT leaders, movers and shakers — and ordinary contributors — haven’t come through yet:
Funding for a proposal to constitutionally ban gay marriage has hit at least $1.3 million. The largest contributors to Proposition 102 are two Mesa couples, David and Nancy LeSueur and Wilford and Kathleen Andersen, Gary and Lori Wagner of Peoria, and the Pete King Corp. of Phoenix, each of who gave $100,000.
Opponents have so far accumulated less than $8,000.
This disparity is shocking. As of our filing deadline last Thursday, we had only been able to raise $8,000. Since then, we’ve had a great fundraising event at Congressman Raul Grijalva’s office on Friday, and we plan on having more events in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, please do what you can to preserve our 2006 victory and donate to Vote No on Prop 102.
AZ Senate Ethics Complaint Dismissed
August 12th, 2008
Dismissed, just like that.
You may remember, Arizona state Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D-Phoenix) filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Jack Harper (R-Surprise), claiming that Harper and others conspired to break a filibuster and force a vote to put yet another anti-marriage amendment on the ballot. During the debate, a senator’s microphone was cut off and the floor was turned over to another senator so the vote could be taken in violation of Senate rules.
The GOP-led Senate did everything they could to brush the ethics complaint under the rug. Senate President Tim Bee (R-Tucson), whose own spineless “leadership” allowed the infractions to take place opined that he “didn’t see the point” of conducting an ethics investigation. Meanwhile, Senate leadership tried to pull a last-minute “fix” of the ethics panel’s membership. The ethics panel eventually met, only to decide they didn’t need to call any witnesses. And with no witnesses other than Cheuvront and Harper, well, I guess they decided there was nothing to see here.
And with that party-line whitwash, Arizona’s corrupt, do-anything-for-a-win GOP-controlled political culture remains intact.
Who Is Behind Arizona’s Marriage Amendment?
August 6th, 2008
This woman: Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy. CAP is an official state policy council of Colorado Springs-based Focus On the Family.
This is the lobbyist who Arizona Senate President Timothy Bee (R-Tucson) denounced from the Senate dias — just before he crumpling himself under the pressure and casting the deciding 16th vote to put yet another anti-marriage amendment before the voters. Arizonans already said no to a previous attempt in 2006. Herrod didn’t like that answer, so she’s trying again for 2008.
[Hat tip: Tucson Observer]
Will Arizona Be Abandoned?
July 29th, 2008
This is a question I am asked nearly everyday from folks in Arizona and from folks around the country. They ask questions like how much support came from outside Arizona in 2006? Will anyone outside of Arizona give money this time to defeat Prop 102? Will anyone inside Arizona give money? How do you feel about so much money going to California? What about Florida? Can Arizona win this one too? Do you feel abandoned by those supporting California especially but also Florida since Arizona is the only state in the nation to defeat an anti-marriage amendment?
There is no easy answer to any of those questions. Frankly, I’m not sure there is value in even trying to come up with an answer. I do believe however, the real value lies in the fact that we are even having this discussion. Internal and external to Arizona.
In an odd way it shows people care. They care enough about Arizona’s contribution to the movement to worry whether we might be slighted financially in this campaign season. They care enough about our statewide LGBT infrastructure to be concerned we are not damaged in the process – at least hopeful that we might escape long term or irreparable damage.
Instead of answering those questions with only the “what’s in front of us” view, I prefer to answer from a 30,000 foot perspective. That means we have to look at our work as a marathon and not a sprint. It means we cannot be angry or feel slighted by donors who, from their own perspective, believe their need and desire to participate in the movement, to make a difference, is best served by giving to a campaign that in their opinion would provide the greatest impact to achieving equality – to meeting their personal political goals. Because we all come from different backgrounds, different economies, different cultural experiences, no one has any right to pass judgment on another for the decisions we make in political giving. Sometimes those decisions are very personal, sometimes they are just hard core strategic moves and sometimes they are the simplicity of altruism.
The higher ground at 30,000 feet allows us to let wash beneath our feet the hardness created by politics – in a way it is cleansing. Don’t think for a minute though that coming down from the high ground to do the work is easy. But we have to have a place to land. Something you can touch, hear and believe in. For me that place is community – it is the work. It is the very place where we interact with one another on a very human and hopefully humanitarian level. It is that place that sometimes stinks, sometimes is so loud with opposing voices you can’t hear yourself think and on occasion calls into question our belief in that very humanity we seek to be a part of.
Over the past several weeks in particular we have been fighting a battle that stems from the worst display of disintegration of democracy I have ever witnessed. We are fighting with every tool at our disposal to call out those who would seek to limit the fullness of our lives in order to advance their own.
Amidst our ongoing Senate debacle we have organized and are executing our 2008 elections strategy; we have organized a Statewide Coordinated Campaign to defeat Prop 102; and we continue to build the capacity of Equality Arizona – design and deliver programs that change hearts and minds while also managing a hard-hitting public affairs agenda to change public policy.
We need a win in California. We need a win in Florida. We need a win in Arizona. That very trifecta has the potential to change the face of American politics. Just for clarification, “trifecta” as a slang term is used to describe any successful or favorable phenomenon or characteristic that comes in threes (according to Wikipedia). That’s what our national agenda should be about.
There is often much angst about coastal states dictating what happens to the rest of the country but today, we need to support our coasts! And yes, tucked into the Southwest – in a place in mid-August where you’re sure you’re already doing time in purgatory – we WILL continue to do our part to advance equality – to contribute to the greater good of our great state and our nation.
Do we want and need your contributions? Yes! Not at the exclusion of California or Florida but in addition too. Just do it. Don’t hesitate, don’t even blink. Just write the checks…address one to California, one to Florida and one to Arizona and sign them simply…from one who cares.
Barbara McCullough-Jones is the Executive Director of Equality Arizona. You can support Arizona’s efforts at the Vote No On Prop 102 website.
AZ Senate To Investigate Ethics Complaint
July 28th, 2008
In a surprise move after Arizona GOP leaders tried to “fix” the makeup of the Senate Ethics committee at the last minute, the committee voted 3-2 this afternoon to investigate the actions of Sen. Jack Harper (R-Surprise) on the last night of the legislative session. Harper’s actions in breaking the Senate rules cut off debate and forced a vote on the anti-marriage amendment.
[Ethics committee chairman] Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-Chandler, sided with the two Democrats on the panel in concluding that further inquiry is needed to “clear the air” on what happened when Harper, chairing floor debate, shut off the microphones of two legislators in the middle of discussion. That cleared the way to table that issue and vote to put a measure on the November ballot to constitutionally ban gay marriage. Harper left Monday’s meeting and the building before the session was over and did not return calls seeking comment.
At the time he shut off the microphones, Harper said he had made a mistake. But Harper has since said the move was a conscious decision because the two lawmakers were “making the same point over and over again.” The Ethics Committee hearing will give panel members a chance to ask Harper about the inconsistencies.
Harper interrupted the dialogue between Cheuvront and Aboud and turned off their microphones. “I clicked on the wrong thing,” he said at the time. “I clicked on the ‘clear mikes’ (button).”
But rather than turning the floor back to the pair, he instead recognized Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, who moved to table further debate, paving the way for a vote on the gay marriage ban. And Harper ignored clearly audible calls for a “point of order,” which is supposed to stop action.
Harper and Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D-Phoenix), who lodged the complaint, are both expected to appear before the panel. It’s unclear who else may be called.
AZ GOP Tries To “Fix” Ethics Committee
July 27th, 2008
How low can Arizona’s Republican-led Senate go?
A few days ago, we reported that state Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D-Phoenix) filed an ethics complaint against Jack Harper (R-Surprise), the Senate chairman who deliberately broke Senate rules to force a vote on the anti-marriage amendment by shutting off a microphone during debate. Now the Arizona Republic is reporting that the GOP-controlled ethics panel has tried to stack the panel with a last-minute substitution ahead of tomorrow’s hearing:
Like all legislative panels, the majority GOP has an advantage. But that advantage nearly became a strangle-hold: One of the two Democrats, Rep. Leah Landrum Taylor, remains on doctor-ordered bed rest following childbirth and can’t attend. Republican leadership’s answer? Replace her with another Democrat who can’t be there, of course. Sen. Victor Soltero wasn’t asked before he was appointed, and is scheduled to be away on vacation. Democrats finally scored with an assist from committee chairman Sen. Jay Tibshraeny.
“I believe to maintain the integrity of this important process, Senator Landrum Taylor needs to be temporarily replaced with someone who is able to attend the meeting,” Tibshraeny, a Chandler Republican, wrote in a memo to Senate President Tim Bee. (Emphasis added by The Republic.)
Sen. Richard Miranda is now slated to fill in for Soltero to fill in for Landrum Taylor. No word yet on who will fill in for Miranda for Soltero for Landrum Taylor if something happens.
Want to know how blatant Harper’s rule-breaking was?
Try following this: At the time Harper cut off mikes for Cheuvront and [Sen. Paula] Aboud [D-Tucson], he immediately apologized and called it inadvertent. But, from his position presiding over the session, Harper didn’t return speaking privileges to Aboud, who had been cut-off in mid-sentence. Instead, Harper turned over the floor to a poised and ready-to-speak Sen. Thayer Verschoor. Now, though, Harper claims he was right to turn off the mikes, because he believes the debate was “dilatory” and, thus, out-of-order.
We can safely expect a whitewash on Monday, par for the course in politics today. A majority of Americans feel that we are on the wrong track, and for the first time in fourteen years, Arizona voters hold the same opinion. Is it any wonder with state and national leadership like this?
Bee “Doesn’t See The Point” of Ethics Investigation
July 24th, 2008
Arizona State Senate President Tim Bee (R-Tucson) rejected a request to appoint a bipartisan panel to investigate whether Republicans broke legislative rules when they improperly ended a filibuster attempt to vote on the same-sex marriage amendment:
“I don’t see the point in it,” Bee, a Tucson Republican, said Wednesday of the request to appoint an independent panel. “If I were to appoint a separate commission it wouldn’t have any authority other than to have a hearing.”
… Bee said, “I had concerns about the way that came down that night,” but he said he would leave the decision to the Ethics Committee. He said he was “absolutely not” involved in any plan to break Senate rules.
A Senate attorney has already concluded Senate Chairman Jack Harper (R-Surprise) violated the rules by cutting off the discussion. Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D-Phoenix) filed a complaint to the Senate Ethics committee, which has agreed to discuss the issue on Monday.
Bee’s unethical performance in those final hours of the legislative session is a topic that he wishes would just go away. He’s currently running for Congress in District 8 against Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords. In 2006, CD8 voted to defeat a proposed same-sex marraige ban 45.4% to 54.6%. That was a significantly wider margin than the statewide vote of 48.2% to 51.8%.
AZ Senate Panel To Hear Ethics Complaint
July 23rd, 2008
We reported last month about the egregious and blatant breach of Senate rules which led to the Arizona Senate’s vote to place an anti-marriage amendment on the ballot. On Monday, State Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D-Phoenix) filed an ethics complaint against Jack Harper (R-Surprise). While acting as Senate chairman, Harper ignored Senate rules to summarily stop a debate serving as a filibuster. Cheuvront’s complaint seeks an investigation and reprimand by the full Senate.
Today, the Ethics Committee’s chairman, Sen. Jay Tibshraeny (R-Chandler) declined to summarily dismiss the complaint, and will call on the full committee to decide whether to investigate the matter or drop it. The committee consists of two Democrats and two Republicans, in addition to Tibshraeny. A meeting was scheduled for Monday to decide whether to investigate or drop the complaint.
On June 27, Tibshraeny told fellow senators that he lamented a loss of decorum by the Senate. He has since said that his comments were generally directed and not specifically aimed at the controversy over Harper’s action as chairman.
Bumbling Bee Won’t Say Where He’ll Land
July 10th, 2008
This is just nuts. Arizona Sen. Tim Bee (R-Tucson), who cast the crucial sixteenth vote to place the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot, just can’t make up his mind about where he stands on the issue. First, he signed on as a co-sponsor of the amendment. Then he took on Rep. Jim Kolbe as his honorary chairman for his race against Gabrielle Giffords (D) for the eighth Congressional district. That led him to try to bottle the amendment up in the state Senate. Then, in the final hours of the legislative session, he blasted the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) for their threats and coercive tactics, but then crumpled under the pressure to cast the deciding vote. That led Kolbe to abandon Bee’s campaign. Then the Tucson Citizen asked Bee about his opinion on same-sex marriage and he struggled to come up with a coherent answer.
Now the Arizona Daily Star is reporting that he won’t answer another simple question: will he vote for the marriage ban in November?
But asked whether he’d support the measure – a hallmark issue for social conservatives – now that he’s voted to put it on the ballot, Bee wouldn’t say, calling it his “private vote.” “I think ultimately, as I tell my members, vote your conscience,” he said.
Bee is trying to play both sides and failing miserably. You cannot denounce CAP’s threats and divisive politics on one hand only to turn around and do their bidding on the other. And you cannot first sponsor a same-sex marriage ban before trying to duck the question just because you’re running in a congressional district that voted against Prop 107 in 2006 by more than a 9% margin.
That 2006 vote was decisive. Bee isn’t. If he can’t make up his mind on this and show some fortitude in front of fellow Arizonans, how can we expect him to make an unassisted decision in Washington?
Paula Aboud: State Senate Breaks Trust
July 10th, 2008
We earlier described how the Arizona State Senate broke its own rules to cram a last-minute vote on the anti-marriage amendment in the session’s final hours. That was when State Senate President Tim Bee finally crumpled under the pressure from Cathi Harrod’s Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), the anti-gay lobbying group that is a political arm of Focus On the Family, to ignore the rule violations and cast the deciding sixteenth vote.
In today’s op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star, Sen. Paula Aboud (D-Tucson) describes how the Republican leadership blatantly broke their own Senate rules to force the vote. She also revealed how immoral these “defenders of morality” really are. Speaking of Republican leaders Thayer Verschoor (R-Phoenix), John Huppenthal (R-Phoenix), and Sen. Jack Harper’s (R-Surprise) actions, Sen. Aboud says:
These three Republican senators have heaped dishonor upon themselves and the institution that they are sworn to serve in order to protect “marriage.” The means do not justify the end — no matter what. State lawmakers, above all, must set the highest example of obeying the law. If they publicly break the rules just to win, they lose their moral authority to serve the state ever again.
These men should not be allowed to break the rules without consequences. The voters have an opportunity to deliver those consequences.
Bee Knows His Anti-Marriage Vote Was A Mistake
July 10th, 2008
Arizona State Sen. Tim Bee knows that his crucial sixteenth vote to place the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot was a terrible mistake that he wishes would just go away. Especially now that Kolbe has withdrawn his support. The Tucson Citizen’s Mark Kimble offers this anecdote:
In a visit this week with the Tucson Citizen Editorial Board, Arnie Bermudez, the Citizen’s cartoonist, asked Bee a logical question: Why shouldn’t gay couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples?
Bee was speechless. He looked at his aide, Dunn, then back at Bermudez. For an uncomfortable 15 or 20 seconds, he said absolutely nothing hunting for an answer. Then Bee said he “was not judgmental,” “likes people of all persuasions” and feels “the core family is an important thing.”
This is not an issue Bee wants in this campaign. But Kolbe’s absence will not let it go away.
And neither will we.
More On Kolbe and Bee’s Parting of Ways
July 10th, 2008
Former US Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) still isn’t directly saying why he has withdrawn his support for Arizona State Senate President Tim Bee’s run for Kolbe’s old Congressional seat. But what he’s not saying is leaving little doubt about the reasons.
Last week, Kolbe announced that he would no longer serve as Bee’s honorary chairman. That announcement came just a few days after Bee’s crucial sixteenth vote to place the anti-marriage amendment again on the ballot. A similar effort was rejected by Arizona voters in 2006.
While Kolbe isn’t talking about his decision, that’s not keeping others from talking. Mark Kimble, writing for today’s Tucson Citizen, describes Kolbe’s reversal as “a stunning six-month turnaround”:
On Jan. 19, Kolbe stood at Bee’s side as Bee announced he would run against Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords for the U.S. House in District 8 – a seat that Kolbe held until he retired in 2006. When Bee stressed his commitment to bipartisanship, Kolbe told reporters, “That’s what we need in Washington.”
Kolbe’s support went beyond that. Just last month, Kolbe opened his Washington, D.C., townhome to host a fundraiser for Bee. And now Kolbe is out, with neither man saying why.
Kimble reports that Kolbe remained circumspect in a telephone interview. When asked why he withdrew, Kolbe said he would “not have a long, protracted discussion” about it. But when asked directly whether he still supported Bee, Kolbe demurred, saying, “I’m not going to get into playing that game.”
You know, if Kolbe still supported Bee in the general, non-endorsing, “I hope we can change the seat to a Republican seat” kind of way, that would not be difficult to say. But Kolbe didn’t even offer that minimal support.
But if that’s not clear enough, there’s this: When Bee was asked why Kolbe withdrew his support, Bee said, “Jim has some personal things going on now that he needs to focus on.” What are those “personal things”? Illness? Death in the family? Catching up on All My Children episodes? He wouldn’t say. But whatever they are, they aren’t keeping Kolbe from hosting a fundraiser tomorrow for state Rep, Pete Hershberger (R-Tucson), who is running for the state Senate.
Why Hershberger and not Bee? Maybe it’s because Hershberger was one of only two state House Republicans who voted against the anti-marriage amendment last May.
Kolbe Ends Support For Bee
July 5th, 2008
Last week, after Arizona Senate President Tim Bee (right) buckled under the threats and pressure from Cathi Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy and cast the cowardly deciding vote to place the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot, we asked where former Rep. Jim Kolbe stood in all this. Kolbe (left) was Tim Bee’s honorary chairman for Bee’s campaign for Congress in Arizona’s eighth district, which was the the seat that Kolbe once held as an out gay Congressman for ten years.
Today, we may have something of an answer:
“I will not be actively campaigning for Bee,” the former Republican congressman said during a telephone interview with the Herald/Review on Thursday.
… Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the Bee campaign, also confirmed Kolbe’s decision. “For personal reasons, Mr. Kolbe is no longer associated with our campaign,” Dunn said. Neither Kolbe nor Dunn provided specific reasons for the former congressman dropping out of campaigning for Bee.
I don’t understand why Kolbe needs to be so coy about this, but I’m glad that he’s distancing himself from Bee nevertheless.
In 2006, the eighth Congressional district defeated Prop 107, that year’s proposed anti-marriage amendment, by more than ten percentage points: 45.4% to 54.6%. That was a significantly wider margin than the statewide tally of 48.2% to 51.8%.
Update: While Kolbe is silent on why he broke with Bee, Daniel Scarpinato is setting the obvious conclusions to print in this morning’s Arizona Daily Star (registration required):
According to Dunn, the switch came within the last week. Also in the last week: Bee, president of the state Senate, was the decisive vote on sending a measure to the ballot asking voters to define marriage in the Arizona Constitution as solely between one man and one woman.
And Kolbe, the only openly gay Republican in Congress before his retirement in 2006, had expressed disagreement with Bee on the issue shortly after it was announced in January that Kolbe would be the honorary chairman for Bee’s campaign. For his part, Bee dodged questions about the measure all year — and avoided bringing it up for a vote until the final hours of a 166-day legislative session. Up to that point, Kolbe had been active in the campaign throughout the spring and summer, hosting a fundraiser for Bee in Washington just last month.
… The support of Kolbe — a highly popular moderate during his 22-year tenure representing Southern Arizona — was a major highlight of Bee’s long-awaited campaign kickoff in January. Kolbe had refused to endorse the GOP nominee for his seat in 2006, Randy Graf. And we all remember how that ended.
For those outside of Arizona who don’t know, Graf lost badly what had been a reasonably reliable Republican seat to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.
Meanwhile, Bee and Cochise County Republicans are trying to pretend that all is well.
Anti-Gay Politics, Arizona Style
July 1st, 2008
The Tucson Observer has published a first person account of the final hours of the Arizona Senate’s passage of the anti-marriage amendment. In this Legislative Update by Representative Steve Farley (D-Tucson) you really get a sense of the boorish, contemptible behavior of a Republican majority with no regard for their own rules. And you also get a sense of how spineless Senate President Timothy Bee was throughout all of this.
After the budget was finished Thursday night, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Mesa) made an attempt to adjourn sine die and end the session right away. Unfortunately, he got the wording wrong, so Majority Leader Tom Boone (R-Peoria)–who had other plans in mind for a number of unfinished bills–made a substitute motion to recess which canceled out Biggs’ motion when the vast majority of the body, unsure what to do, stood in support of Boone.
That paved the way for us to come back the next day for a horrible day of legislating where a whole lot of bad things happened, none worse than the resurrection of the anti-marriage amendment.
You may recall that we have spent much of the session fighting Republican efforts to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to outlaw Gay marriage, which is already illegal. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) carried out an ingenious strategy to derail the House version of the bill several months ago.
As a referendum, it is not subject to veto by the Governor — it goes directly to the voters if approved by both houses of the Legislature. Right-wingers in the House have been conspiring with the Center for Arizona Policy ever since to find a way to bring another version to the floor.
On May 12, that new version, SCR1042, passed out of the House by one vote when Rep. Marian McClure (R-Green Valley) changed her vote to Yes, under pressure from her partners running for the Corporation Commission–Bob Robson (R-Chandler) and Bob Stump (R-Peoria). They all have been led to believe that the anti-marriage amendment will bring more hard-right voters to the polls in November, and they will benefit from it. It would appear it doesn’t matter to them how many LGBT people get hurt on their way to higher office.
Despite withering pressure from the hard right lobbyists, the bill never made it to the floor. Senate President Tim Bee (R-Tucson) apparently came to understand that a yes vote on the amendment would compromise the image of moderation and bipartisanship he has built up over the years, so he refused to bring it forth while at the same time saying to members of his own caucus that he would bring it forth in time.
His caucus members brought it forth for him on Wednesday when they voted to force it to the floor, but it did not receive the votes to carry at that time because the 16th vote was in a cabin in northern Arizona — Senator Karen Johnson (R-Mesa). She is not running for re-election, and had declared early in the session that her last day would be June 21. She left and planned not to return.
What she didn’t plan on was members of her church–including her bishop for Arizona–surrounding her cabin at all hours of the day and night praying for her that she be moved into returning to Phoenix to vote for the amendment.
The pressure worked, and she arrived at the Capitol on Friday, when the bill would be brought back up for reconsideration. Senator Tom O’Halleran (R-Sedona) was rumored to be gone as well, but he stayed to vote Yes. Sixteen votes in favor, including Tim Bee, were present, but we found out that two of them, Senator Pam Gorman (R-Anthem) and Karen Johnson, had plane flights out of town that evening and would be gone by 7pm.
So we forces of reason had our mission — drag things out until those two were gone, then adjourn sine die. For reasons way too complicated to explain in this already voluminous missive, we had to filibuster in the House and in the Senate, without making it appear we were actually filibustering. Rep. Sinema served as field general, and she picked four of us to do the talking, based on the fact that we always did a lot of talking and we didn’t want others to catch on to what we were doing.
The four were Reps. Prezelski (D-South Tucson), Ableser (D-Tempe), Ulmer (D-Yuma), and me. We asked a whole lot of questions in caucus (at one point we stretched out discussion of two of the bills to 40 minutes), in Committee of the Whole, and in explaining our votes in third read and final passage. We were so convincing that certain other members of our own caucus who were not in on the plan began to openly mock us for talking too long and told us to sit down and shut up. In the end we were able to extend debate past 7pm.
Our colleagues in the Senate were doing the same thing on the floor, but things were not going so well. Republicans began suspending Senate rules left and right to deprive the Democrats of talking time, and in one case suspended an entire calendar of bills that had already been passed, a move that had the effect of killing them. People called each other names and nearly got into shoving matches. Senators cried, while other senators openly laughed at those who cried.
Decorum broke down almost completely as the torchbearers for the “moral majority” followed a scorched-earth policy in their single-minded quest to take away rights from LGBT people. After 7pm, it became clear that Gorman and Johnson had no intention to leave to make their planes, and by 7:20, the filibuster could hold out no longer.
The vote was called for through a series of rule suspensions, and voting finally proceeded. Senator Carolyn Allen (R-Scottsdale) left in disgust before the vote. Senator Paula Aboud (D-Tucson), the only open lesbian in the Senate, talked about the power of the love between her and her partner, and asked the other senators, “Why are you afraid of our love? Are you afraid of me? Do I scare you?” Every Republican (besides Carolyn Allen) voted yes, then turned their backs and left the floor in the middle of Aboud’s speech.
After all had voted except President Bee, the tally stood at 15 in favor. Weighing in last, Bee explained his vote. He hammered the Center for Arizona Policy and its tactics, calling the issue divisive and saying that the lobbyists in favor of the amendment had “confronted members in hostile ways and coerced them.”
Many of us watching held our breath, wondering if Bee would step up courageously to do the right thing–not the easy thing. Would he vote No, and show that he puts policy above politics? Would he reject the Republican strategists who were convinced the anti-marriage amendment would help spur conservative voters to vote for him in his congressional race against Gabrielle Giffords?
His voice moved swiftly lower–almost to a whisper–as he concluded, “But my constituents want to vote on this, so I will vote Aye.”
With that, Tim Bee cast the deciding 16th vote, and in effect personally placed the anti-marriage amendment on the ballot once again, ensuring that the divisiveness will continue into the electorate at large.
This concluded the session like a punch to the gut. Exhausted and dispirited, we adjourned sine die shortly thereafter without doing much else. Bills that were in process died, including a vital bill to enact new tax credits for attracting huge solar energy plants to Arizona–plants and factories we are currently losing to California and Oregon in increasing numbers. But apparently, outlawing Gay marriage again was much more important than rebuilding our economy through renewable energy.
After lambasting CAP’s political tactics, Bee turned around and blamed his constituents for his cowardly vote. His constituents don’t deserve being scapegoated like this. They already voted on this in 2006 and gave a resounding “no” — 47.5% to 52.5%. That was wider than the statewide margin of 48.2% to 51.8%. And the Congressional district that he wants to represent come November also said “no” by a wider margin still: 45.4% to 54.6%. What part of “no” does Bee not understand?
More Reactions to AZ Anti-Marriage Amendment Fiasco
June 30th, 2008
I like the way “Tedski” at the Arizona political blog Rum Romanism and Rebellion thinks, probably because I myself in almost perfect agreement with his reaction to Arizona Senate President Tim Bee’s disgraceful performance in the closing hours of the legislative session:
On the other hand, there was the leadership that he applied to the gay marriage referendum. He went back and forth on this one. For example, he was one of the main sponsors of the legislation, but delayed the vote in the hopes that time would run out and it would never actually be presented. This back and forth was so public that it didn’t fool anyone. He even pulled a Marion McClure on this, giving an impassioned speech that seemed to be against the bill then casting the deciding vote for the darned thing.
Apparently, he then disappeared into his office to “compose” himself for about an hour.
Now, that’s leadership.
My take on Bee’s performance is here. Is this the man we’re supposed to send to Congress? If he can’t stand up to Cathi Herrod at the Center for Arizona Policy, how can we expect him to stand up to lobbyists in Washington?
By now it should be obvious to anyone paying attention that his political career is toast. Good thing he has his brother’s Bee Line school bus service to go back to.
Tedski closes with this:
Say, what does Bee’s campaign chair, Jim Kolbe, think of all this?
Wingspan Statement on Arizona Senate Debacle
June 28th, 2008
In 2006, Arizona voters became the ﬁrst in the nation to defeat an anti-marriage ballot measure. Today, our State Senate, led by President Tim Bee, rejected that democratic process in an attempt to distract voters from issues that truly have an impact on families, including the rising costs of food, gas, and healthcare.
Senator Bee is grossly mistaken if he thinks he can ride an anti-family agenda to victory in his campaign to unseat Gabrielle Giffords in Congressional District 8 — analysis of voting data from 2006 revealed that voters there rejected the ﬁrst anti-marriage amendment by a 10 point margin, with 54.6% voting against Prop 107 and only 45.4% voting for it. This was an even wider margin than statewide results (51.8% vs. 48.2%).
The time has come for elected representatives and the anti-gay industry in Arizona to be held accountable for harming Arizona families. I came back home to Arizona two months ago ready for this ﬁght. A political sea change is approaching this November, and our legislature is in store for a rude awakening. Just as we did in 2006, a broad coalition of Arizonans — young and old, men and women, gay and straight — will come together and defeat this ballot measure, again.
Arizona Senate Breaks Own Rules To Pass Anti-Marriage Amendment
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.