PHOENIX – Activists opposed to Arizona’s marriage amendment say battles will continue over issues related to same-sex couples, including inheritance rights, medical decision-making and burial rights.
Voters last week passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. Arizona was one of three states to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman on Nov. 4.
“There are many more rights that we need to fight for and address instead of just the right to marry,” said Barbara McCullough-Jones, executive director of Equality Arizona, a group that defends the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Others are also vowing to fight on.
“This amendment, cruel as it was, was not the final word,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of the Freedom to Marry coalition, which promotes marriage rights for people of the same gender.
Wolfson said views on same-sex marriage, like other issues, evolve over time, and that civil rights advance in a patchwork fashion, with some states ahead of the pack and others trailing. Laws, and even constitutions, can change as society changes its views, he said.
Same-sex couples can obtain many rights through powers of attorney, but that involves costly legal fees, something married couples don’t have to bear, McCullough-Jones said.
“We’re taking a step back, taking a deep breath and letting the anger of Prop. 102 pass,” McCullough-Jones said.
Those who pushed for the constitutional amendment said last week’s success at the ballot box doesn’t signal the end of their call for family-friendly policies.
“I think Prop. 102 shows Arizona can unite around a timeless family value,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which successfully forced lawmakers to put the measure on the ballot.
In 2006, voters rejected a similar measure that also included a prohibition on government benefits for domestic partners.
This year’s ballot question dealt only with same-sex marriage, which Herrod said she believes helped Prop. 102 pass.
“The main difference was the 20 simple words,” she said, referring to the ballot language.
“We weren’t trying to fool anyone.”
Herrod said the coalition that backed Prop. 102, drawing heavily from churches statewide, will not fade away.
“I think it has built a strong and effective voice on policy issues,” she said.
Herrod would not comment on which issues the coalition might support in the future and whether it would include pushing a ban on government-provided domestic-partnership benefits.