Equal Marriage Arizona initiative suspended

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

EqualEarlier this month, I posted about the Equal Marriage Arizona initiative (C-05-2014) that was filed in June, and the investigative journalism of Lila Shapiro at the Huffington Post, Tim Mooney, Former Gay Marriage Foe, Launches Equality Campaign To Suspicion.  Ms. Shapiro's exceptional reporting set off alarm bells among the LGBT community both in Arizona and nationally.

Discussions between the cochairs of Equal Marriage Arizona and the leadership of the LGBT community in Arizona has led to the suspension of the Equal Marriage Arizona initiative based upon mutually shared interests and concerns. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, GOP-backed
marriage initiative stalls amid concerns from gay community
:

A ballot initiative to legalize gay
marriage that is being pushed by the political right has been suspended
due to suspicion from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)
community about the campaign timing and the motives of the campaign’s
backer.

The Equal Marriage Arizona Initiative, an effort led by Republicans
and Libertarians, has been collecting signatures to trigger a vote in
2014 to amend the Constitution to allow same-sex marriages in Arizona.
 Now it is in negotiations with LGBT leaders to gain their support
before moving forward, said the campaign co-chair, Erin Ogletree
Simpson.

“We need the backing and support of all of the organizations that
have been working on these matters to go forward… We need their
support,” Simpson said.

But the campaign won’t find support from the traditional gay rights
organization, said Sheila Kloefkorn, a Phoenix-based member of the
national board of the Human Rights Campaign. One of the largest gay
rights groups in the United States, it has been involved in winning
ballot campaigns in 12 states and Washington D.C.

“We will not (support the campaign) and I don’t know of any organization that would at this point,” she said.

* * *

In the meantime, the Human Rights Campaign
will be working on educating people about the importance of marriage in
an attempt to swing undecided voters.

* * *

Volunteers are still collecting
signatures, and Simpson said she would reach out to them when a decision
has been made whether they will have to start the effort over — or if
it will continue at all.

“We’re in a period of kind of continued dormancy. The dormancy has
gone on for a few weeks as we have been in negotiation with the local
LGBT groups,” Simpson said. 

That period of continued dormancy has left early supporters of the
campaign, like HERO (Human and Equal Rights Organizers) to reconsider
their support, said Melanie Puskar-Blakely, chair of the HERO steering
committee.

No national LGBT groups have lent their endorsement.

* * *

Those on both sides of the negotiating
table agreed that they will need to work together to pass an initiative.
Kloefkorn made it clear that she and other gay rights leaders hold the
Arizona organizers in high esteem. But they don’t trust Mooney’s
motives.

She said one of the theories is the Arizona chairs of the committee
had the best intentions, but as relative LGBT outsiders — the campaign
co-chair Warren Meyer is straight and Simpson came out a year and a half
ago — they may have been talked into doing something that isn’t in the
best interest of the community.

“At the end of the day, this is a business for Tim Mooney, and for everyone else involved, it’s our lives,” Kloefkorn said.

 I recently attended a roundtable discussion at which the the leadership of the LGBT community decided that the Human Rights Campaign will conduct an educational campaign to lay the groundwork for its initiative effort in 2016. The LGBT community has reached out to the cochairs of the Equal Marriage Arizona initiative to participate in this mutual effort.

You can contact the Human Rights Campaign or any of your local LGBT organizations to volunteer to begin building the coalition of organizations that it will take to make an initiative effort in 2016 successful.

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