Washington- In the final hours of the state's legislative session on Friday, June 27, Arizona's State Senate narrowly approved a measure that will place a constitutional ban on marriage by gay and lesbian Arizonans before voters this fall. 16 senators, the bare minimum required to advance the measure, voted in favor of the referendum, which means voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to provide that only a union of a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Arizona. The measure passed the Arizona House in May.
Arizona voters rejected a similar measure in 2006, making Arizona the only state where voters have defeated a marriage amendment at the polls. Arizona statutory law already prohibits marriage by same-sex couples.
"It is sad and it is disappointing that the Arizona legislature used the final moments of its session to send a divisive, discriminatory measure back to voters this fall," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Not one single Arizonan, not one single Arizona family, will benefit by the time spent on this unnecessary referendum. I am confident that Arizona voters will see this measure as the distraction it is and will defeat it this November, as they did in 2006."
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix said: "I am deeply disappointed that this referendum will be on the ballot. Arizonans have far more important issues to deal with than adding a redundant ban on marriage by same-sex couples to the state constitution. This referendum is a distraction from real priorities like education, health care, and the economy. The people of Arizona voted on the question of marriage in 2006, the State Legislature voted on it in 1996, and the State Supreme Court ruled on it in 2003. It is well past time to move on. I believe Arizonans will defeat the referendum this November and, I hope, put an end to this tired, deeply divisive debate over whether to amend the state constitution."
Rep. Sinema led the successful fight against the 2006 measure as chair of Arizona Together, working with other groups committed to defeating the proposed amendment. The Human Rights Campaign provided financial support for Arizona Together's successful fight against the 2006 amendment.
Numerous individuals and organizations worked to defeat this year's referendum in both the Senate and the House. In addition to Rep. Sinema, Senators Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix and Paula Aboud of Tucson, as well as other legislators and groups, fought against the measure.
This November, voters in California and Florida will also decide whether to amend their state constitutions to prohibit marriage and other forms of relationship recognition.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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