Equality Is Coming (UPDATED)

I am finally able to say it: I’ve been in the loop on the first initiative of its kind here in Arizona. Currently, 12 states have legalized gay marriage. Now, Equal Marriage Arizona – helmed by conservatives and libertarians – has come out with amendments to the Arizona constitution that would legalize gay marriage for the first time in a Red State.

Today I joined a meeting that began with people from both ends of the political spectrum to begin coming up with strategy and attempting to enlist gay rights groups in an effort to bring marriage equality to the state I currently reside in. The tension was palpable; I could almost say there were some who exuded animosity at certain times. During our discussions, some could not help but bring up the fact that they’ve been working on equality for a long time. I couldn’t help but wonder whether that was their way of saying they knew better than the conservatives leading the charge what to do or if it was their ego coming out to say, “we want credit” – either way, I felt a sense that we had taken a big step forward in achieving something that no primarily conservative state has been able to accomplish yet.

A good friend and the chair of Arizona Log Cabin Republicans Caucus, Erin Simpson, had let me in on it and asked me to keep it on the down-low since nobody was sure if it would make it off the ground. I was excited to meet some of the other people behind the initiative and get the chance to hear everyone’s concerns, and I was particularly excited to finally be able to say publicly that we could actually win this.

I have said many times before that I would never support any marriage equality bill that did not also include specific provisions to reinforce religious freedom. Any law I got behind would have to explicitly protect the right of any church or religious organization to refuse to assert their freedom of religious expression and refuse to marry a couple, whether gay or straight. This initiative does exactly that. It is exactly two sentences, changing the language of the bill that was voted into law in 2008 that declared marriage as being between one man and one woman. It changes the language from defining marriage as between “a man and a woman” to being between “two persons”. Also added is the following phrase:

“A religious organization, religious association, or religious society shall not be required to solemnize or officiate any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its Constitutional right to free exercise of religion.”

No church will ever be forced to marry a gay couple if they choose not to. The doomsday predictions that churches will be sued for such refusals are shut down before they even begin. Gay and lesbian couples get their right to marry and Evangelicals are protected – which was exactly what I was personally after. And – bonus! – it’s been started by right-leaning leaders in the Arizona political scene. Erin is also a lesbian, a successful retired lawyer, and a wonderful woman with a lot of experience and wisdom to add to the debate on equality. The co-chair, Warren Meyer, is a successful businessman and libertarian. Others who are on board now once didn’t believe in marriage equality. That they are so honest is inspiring to me. It gives me hope that we can live in peace.

Equality is coming. It’s inevitable. I would simply prefer to have a say in all the other issues that come with it, and I am happy that things are changing.

UPDATE: after re-reading this post, I am aware that I didn’t explain something very well. I was never aware before the day of the meeting that this legislation was coming. I knew that SOMETHING was about to happen, but I did not know what until the day of the first meeting. When I finally got to the meeting and found out what it was, I had a very hard time not whipping my phone out and sharing the news with everyone. Someone that I know and respect was helping to get this initiative off the ground and I did not want to say anything until I had the green light from them. I apologize that this was not clearer when I first posted this.

Comments

16 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Paul Carpenter,

    This is very exciting. Arizona has a long tradition of live and let live, or libertarian, conservatives such as Barry Goldwater. He would, I think, be very proud of this effort. Gay marriage will come to pass, but it must come to pass with constitutional protections for religious liberty intact, I am heterosexual and not from Arizona, but, as far as I’m concerned , this effort should be a model for every state. Bravo to all involved. Let me know what I can do to help, please.

  2. Kyle,

    Well this would be nice if all religious organizations had to worry about would be the threat to “solemnize or officiate or forcibly marry” gay people. This seems like the condescending attitude of anti-religious people, as if that’s what they think religious people are worried about. (ie. You poor poor religious people. See? You won’t have to marry us after all. Happy now?). No. You said the bill was made magical by the addition of that one phrase. It still needs a third. Religious organizations shouldn’t be forced to RECOGNIZE marriages they don’t agree with. Government and civil organizations- yes, but not religious organizations. I could be employed by the Catholic church as a school teacher and they could be forced to include my husband on my health insurance. So there are more reasons why religious organizations shouldn’t be forced to RECOGNIZE gay marriages.

    But this goes back to an argument I have held to for years. The whole Gay Marriage debate is more of a Psychological issue than a Legal issue. Gay people are offered recognized legal Civil Unions with every benefit of marriage but they throw that back in my face and scream “No! It must be called marriage!”. If you ask them why you can see they still have issues with their parents or family or church not accepting them and in their minds they think “THIS will force them to accept me now! They HAVE to accept me now and can’t even allude to the fact that I am less than them!”. Think of some Scandinavian countries where it is illegal now to read passages from the bible that are anti-gay.

    So, as a gay conservative, I still think this Arizona proposition is somewhat condescending, dishonest, and will not benefit either cause.

  3. Nancy Drigotas,

    “Gay Conservative”. HA Such an oxyMORON. Get over yourselves. EMA/F is doing nothing but lining Silver Bullet’s pockets. Your cohorts have been holding you back, oppressing you, denigrating you, trashing you forever. Grow up folks. It’s 2013. You don’t need to take this shit anymore.

  4. What a great way to win hearts and minds, Nancy. The only people who are denigrating us are folks like you, the very same people who demand tolerance yet cannot be tolerant. You put me in a box – I’m a lesbian, therefore I MUST be liberal. Anybody who would insist that I think a certain way or follow a certain belief does not love nor even care about me. You are the very monster you accuse them of being.

  5. Nancy Drigotas,

    What nobody is getting here is that you do NOT vote on civil rights. Stupid is as stupid does. Bye bye and good luck.

  6. Really? Tell that to the Republicans who overwhelmingly voted to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That had to be voted on…nobody kibitzed about it. BTW, the Democrats voted overwhelmingly against that legislation, including good ol’ Robert Byrd.

  7. Nancy Drigotas,

    News Flash. EMA is gone. Yippee!!!!!! Now we don’t have to worry about them mucking things up even more in this state. Our amendment is unconstitutional and will be deemed so very soon. And your friend Erin went out trashing those of us some sense and A LOT of experience. Charming.

  8. Erin didn’t trash anyone. In fact, she’s been nothing but professional in the face of some serious adversity. Mucking things up? Haven’t you been trying for years to convince the social conservatives that equality is important? I would think that you would have been happy to have people who used to be against marriage equality on your side for once. It is an absolute disgrace that this is your reaction. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    If this is going to be your reaction, don’t be surprised when you start your 2016 campaign for marriage equality and it falls flat because you didn’t know how to make peace with people you disagree with.

  9. Anonymous,

    You miss the point completely. The man/woman amendments are unconstitutional by virtue of the recent SCOTUS rulings. I have no intention of doing anything in 2016. It will happen without you or me. More importantly, no thinking person would get in bed with their oppressors. If you choose to do that, that’s your business, but leave the rest of us out of it. Erin said they must have ‘stepped on some toes’. That is an arrogant ignorant statement and shows what she’s made of. Not much. JMJ, I have publically stuck my neck out for 40 years so people like her can come out. Grow up.

  10. I haven’t missed anything, Nancy. “Get in bed with their oppressors”? Are you serious? Exactly how are they trying to oppress us now? I’m sorry, but while I would like to have marriage rights, I don’t see the lack of them as oppression. Sodomy laws were oppression. Decency laws were oppression. This? This is a tiny issue in comparison. We’re not being rounded up and sent to re-education camps. Marriage rights are not a life-and-death struggle.

    A remark that one has “stepped on some toes” is not trashing anyone, and to infer such is absolutely sophomoric. She was right – they did step on some toes. She has a hell of a lot more class than I do, and I will tell you right now that I had high hopes for EMA but it was mixed with dread that the gay left would act like petulant children, and that’s exactly what they did. I don’t speak for Erin, Warren, or anyone else in that campaign, nor did I work for the campaign, but I will tell you right now that the gay left missed a huge opportunity. They were far too concerned with getting the glory for “winning the battle” for equality than they were with equality itself, and that is absolutely embarrassing. I don’t ever want to hear you or anyone else cry for equality after this display of wanton childishness.

    Someone here does need to grow up, and it ain’t me.

  11. Anonymous,

    Well well. You really don’t get it. And no one can make you. So bye bye again.

  12. What, exactly, don’t I get? You just said one of the most insulting things I have ever heard a gay liberal say – that YOU are somehow responsible for Erin’s coming out, implying that you are also responsible for MY ability to come out.

    You are incredible. You, like those you mingle with, are never wrong. That must be awfully nice, Nancy.

  13. Nancy Drigotas,

    I, and many many other LGBTQ people, were brave enough in the ‘old’ days to hit the streets after Stonewall paving the way for our right wing oppressors to come out.  Yes, it is true.  What you don’t seem to get is the concept of equality.  Just because the very same wing nuts who have been suppressing equality forever decide it is now time to “right” the wrong, is no reason to trust anything they say or do.  You know, in those days it was the ‘silent majority’ (Anita Bryant, Jesse Helms, etc.) that we had to deal with.  Most of us decided they weren’t worth the energy.  Instead we cultivated our supporters knowing that those crazies will never change.  Well, maybe individually if they acknowledged their own homosexuality.  But usually not even then.  Remember Roy Cohn?  Only one example.  Now it’s repulsives and tea baggers.  No difference really.  If you like being called horrible names because you are queer that, again, is your choice.  Not me.  I am so sick of the right wing agenda and will not pretend to be otherwise.  You are in collusion with the worst of the worst.

    I am married now.  And the judge who married us said no matter what AZ says, we are married.  She’s correct.  Neither you nor your cohorts can take that away from me.  Mark my words, they will do everything they can to nullify my marriage.  That is who you align with.  Why?????????????????????????????????  I’ll bet you can’t answer that one.  

    ________________________________

  14. The worst of the worst? Nancy, do you have any idea how hysterical you sound? Decency laws and sodomy laws are null and void. We can’t be arrested for not being feminine enough. We can’t be thrown in jail because someone accuses us of having a sexual relationship that is deemed “unnatural”. You’re speaking as if nothing has improved. You act as if the “right wing” is trying to re-institute things that have already been declared Unconstitutional. You’re bitter, and I’m rather tired of hearing that kind of crap.

    I’m not aligning myself with the bad guy. Don’t you dare try to make excuses by claiming that you don’t trust them – it’s a cop-out and you damn well know it. A group of straight conservatives and libertarians just tried to mount a serious campaign to change the language of a law that bans gay marriage and all you can do is attack them? And – seriously – your best excuse is that you don’t trust them? No. Not buying it. You’re refusing to accept their olive branch because you’re too proud to accept an apology.

    I’ve already answered your challenges, Nancy. There are now two posts you can access from the main page, written in response to YOUR outrageous remarks. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE LIBERAL AGENDA. I want the government out of my life. I want to know that if I make it as an author, I’ll actually be able to keep the money I earn from it and not have to pay higher taxes just because I make more. I don’t want my government forcing me to buy health insurance and I don’t want them to have access to my health records. Gay marriage is not the only issue I consider when choosing a side in politics.

    Basically, if my rights as a free citizen of the United States are taken away, then my right to marry my partner will not matter in the least. I’m not willing to give up one for the other – and make no mistake, that is what modern liberalism aims to do. THAT is why I refuse to be a liberal.

  15. Nancy Drigotas,

    Again, you don’t get it. Equality is not something you compartmentalize; e.g., sodomy versus marriage. WTF. Either we are equal or we are not. So you are antigumment. How mature and intelligent is that?! What don’t you like about paying taxes? You don’t like good roads, traffic lights, schools, public assistance, fire departments, police departments, blah blah blah. If I have to label myself, yes I am a raging liberal and proud of it. Look it up. What’s not to be proud of. I’m either that or a fucking sociopath like your pals. I see that you like to invoke the holocaust. Yet another contradiction. Who the hell do you think perpetrated that? No liberal that’s for sure. My politics were formed in the early 70’s on a kibbutz. I am a socialist and proud of that too. Put that in your antigumment pipe and smoke it. I saw what real socialism can be, with all of its warts. I saw that what was coming in this country and lo and behold it has all come to pass hasn’t it. Are you really proud that you take food and medicine from the poor? That there are no jobs that pay a decent wage? That your friends hate the president because he is black? Quite the legacy you have wrought. Bitter? Maybe. Mostly tired of fighting the fight for you and everyone else who is too stupid to see what’s going on. So now I fight for ME. That I know you understand. MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME…………..

  16. How do you think black people felt? First they were freed from slavery. Then they faced Jim Crow laws. It took over 100 years for legal discrimination against blacks to end – our struggle for equal treatment may be similar, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the things that they had to face. The only thing that set them apart was their skin color – something that is plainly obvious. Even though you and I know better, whether homosexuality is something that is genetic is still being researched. Gay marriage has not been legal in the history of mankind until our generation – that’s a pretty huge step.

    And what is this “antigumment” crack you’re making? You’re making a hell of a lot of assumptions that are incredibly arrogant. I’m not anti-government. I just happen to believe that the government should have limits, which is, incidentally, what our founders believed as well. It’s the spirit of our Constitution. The government doesn’t have the right to stifle free speech, establish a state religion, control the press, or redistribute wealth. I’m all for taxes to pay for roads and police and fire departments, but that’s not all our tax money pays for. There is so much waste in our government, so much fraud in the welfare system, that it’s amazing we have any money left at all. We’ve been operating at a massive deficit for a long time and we cannot sustain it. My problem isn’t with paying taxes – it’s with people like you trying to tell those who make more that they should be paying more. In essence, you’re trying to slowly introduce wealth redistribution, and that’s not acceptable.

    My friends are hardly sociopaths. I’m all for charity, Nancy – but you cannot force charity by government mandate. When you point a gun at someone’s head and force them to hand over more money, that’s not charity, it’s theft. We put people in prison for that sort of thing.

    Don’t try to tell me that conservatives perpetrated Shoah. The Nazis were socialists. Do you know what their name was in German? Nationalsozialistische Deutch Arbiterpartei. The term “Nazi” is actually just the first syllable of the NSDAP’s name. The English translation is NATIONAL SOCIALIST GERMAN WORKERS’ PARTY. Put that in your liberal pipe and smoke it, honey. The Nazis were socialists, first and foremost. Hitler was an environmentalist, a vegetarian, and an animal lover. Don’t kid yourself – just because the Nazis weren’t liberals doesn’t mean that modern liberals aren’t capable of similar evil.

    Taking food and medicine from the poor? We “hate” the President because he’s black? Boy, you’re just full of extreme stereotypes, aren’t you? That kind of thing – accusations of an extreme nature – is exactly what the Nazis did. So before you go accusing ANYONE of being an extremist, take a look in your mirror and ask yourself if the things you’re saying are really fair. They’re not, but you don’t care. You have your mind made up, you’ve passed judgment, and like other liberals who have done that you can’t possibly be wrong.

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