Thursday, September 29, 2005

Good news!

KAET-TV in Phoenix released a new poll that reinforces what I've believed since I first heard about the drive to put a marriage amendment on the ballot: Arizonans do not support discrimination. "Red" state or not, we believe in individual freedom.

A new statewide telephone poll of 390 registered voters conducted by KAET-TV/Channel 8 and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University Sept. 22 – 25 found that the proposed Protect Marriage Arizona initiative is in early trouble. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed said they would vote for the initiative, 60 percent would vote against it and 7 percent were undecided.

The survey found that one reason the initiative may be in trouble is that while Arizonans tend to be about evenly divided on whether there should be a ban on gay marriages (41 percent favorable to 49 percent opposed) voters favor allowing partners of unmarried workers to receive domestic benefits. Thirty-six percent favor banning domestic partner benefits, while 57 percent are opposed.

This is excellent news. First of all, it means that (at least of the people polled) the public is understanding that this initiative goes much further than just defining marriage. I've believed since I got involved with Arizona Together that we will defeat this amendment if people understand the full implications.

Even more impressive is that even if it were only a ban on same-sex marriage without all of the other mean-spirited language about "status for unmarried persons... similar to that of marriage," then 49% of those polled would still be opposed.

That's huge. It indicates that people's minds are changing. A year ago, I think a poll would've shown an overwhelming majority of people being in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage if domestic partnerships and other benefits were left alone. Now it's a virtual dead heat. Maybe it's because same-sex couples have been getting married in Massachusetts for a year now and the sky hasn't fallen nor has the institution of marriage been destroyed. Maybe it's because the legislature of our next-door neighbors to the west just voted in favor of extended marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples (even if the governor will most likely veto it). Whatever the reason, the tide is turning. On November 7, 2006, Arizona will be among the first states--if not the first state--to defeat a marriage amendment to its state constitution. Count on it.

This doesn't mean it will be easy. It will be a long hard fight and there's a lot of work to do. But we're off to a great start.


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