Saturday, August 23, 2008

AZ Secretary of State Shows Odd Aversion to Sunlight

In our latest installment of All You Need to Know, all you need to know about opponents of marriage equality is contained in their apoplexy when they are required to use plain, clear language to explain their constitutional amendment ballot initiatives. The group pushing California's Proposition 8 were furious when they couldn't strike wording that says a yes vote will have the effect of eliminating the current right of same-sex couples to marry, because, well, all they're trying to do is protect marriage and that just makes them sound like bigots.

Now comes Arizona's turn. A no lesser person than the secretary of state, Republican Jan Brewer, has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to avoid having to remind voters that Arizona law already prohibits same-sex marriage.
In a lawsuit filed Friday, Brewer said the only thing she needs to explain on the ballot is approval of Proposition 102 would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

She wants to limit the legally required explanation of the effect of voting "no" on the measure would "have the effect of retaining the current laws regarding marriage."

And she wants Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Aceto to block efforts by Attorney General Terry Goddard to expand the explanation to say existing laws already include "a statutory ban on same-sex marriage."

Wow, that seems like a lot of trouble to go to, Jan, especially when the outcome you're working so hard for is a less-well-informed electorate. After all, the language you're suing over is the exact wording that was included on the ballot the last time around, back in 2006, and you didn't object to it then. Why push to do it now?

Brewer said she believes the measure is clearer without the language Goddard wants.

Huh. Well, fair enough, but is there more to it than that? Oh, look. Yes. Yes, there is.

She also said one reason she wants the shorter version is she heard from the group pushing Proposition 102 that it believes mentioning the existing law would confuse voters and cause many to vote against the measure.

Oh, yeah, by the way, there's, like, this group that thinks if we tell voters exactly what the amendment would do, they won't vote for it, so, like, I sued. Whatever. One Peter Gentala, of Arizonans for Marriage (I assume Arizonans for Marriage by Any Two Random Opposite-Sex Individuals Whether They've Been Together for Decades or Just Met in a Bar Last Night was too long for the letterhead) explains:

In a letter to Brewer, Gentala said a poll conducted after voters defeated the 2006 proposal shows some people who voted against it — voters who were exposed to the language about existing state law — said they thought they were voting for the constitutional ban.

Gentala also said telling people same-sex marriages already are against the law "includes an argument against the proposition." He cited comments by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who, in announcing her opposition to Proposition 102, said it is unnecessary because "we already have a statute that defines marriage."

I'm not sure why Mr. Gentala is concerned about the presence of an implicit contradictory argument within the amendment proposition, since in his first comment he fairly convincingly argues that his constituency has the reading comprehension levels of below-average first graders.

No word on when the lawsuit will be resolved, either way. I stand appalled that the secretary of state would pull such a blatantly partisan move designed to manipulate the outcome of the balloting, especially when it's coming at the behest of that kind of interest group. Here's a hint for the Prop 8-ers and the Prop 102-ers and every similar group working to enshrine discrimination within their own state constitutions: if you'd like to avoid plain, descriptive wording about your amendments that plainly paint you as hurtful bigots, try to avoid proposing hurtful, bigoted amendments in the first place. Unless you're comfortable giving me, a person you've never met and who does not know you, the power to vote on the validity of your most important adult relationship, keep your nose, ballots, and amendments out of mine.


Chino Blanco said...

According to Frank Schubert, 'Yes on 8' campaign manager, the mobilization of LDS (Mormon) volunteers could save his campaign up to $26 million in costs related to micro-targeting persuadable voters.

Micro-Targeting Mormons

So much for campaign finance rules.

Homer said...

Peter Genitalia? No wonder he's a nut.

Jan Brewer is an evil person.