More than two dozen Arizona Republican lawmakers on Wednesday pledged to ask Congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and all legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships in the United States, The Arizona Republic reports. House Republicans, led by speaker Jake Flake, introduced a bill that would send an "official postcard" to Congress, telling federal lawmakers that Arizona wants to be in the forefront of the issue. The bill follows passage of a state senate resolution calling for a November election to ban same-sex marriages.
Rep. Warde Nichols, the main sponsor of the bill, said the measure has strong support in the house and senate, with at least 31 members signing on. Gov. Janet Napolitano does not have to sign the resolution before it is sent to Congress. Napolitano has consistently stated that she opposes gay marriage but has urged the Republican-led legislature to focus on things such as early-childhood education and protecting the state's military bases. Nichols dismisses the criticism that the postcard to Congress is a waste of time, but Kathie Gummere, a lobbyist for the Arizona Human Rights Fund, the state's leading gay rights group, said the ceremonial bill is inconsequential. Arizona is one of 37 states with a Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as a male-female partnership. Proponents of same-sex marriage are buoyed by recent court rulings for a battle that will play out in the courts, at state capitals, and in public.
Rep. Robert Meza, one of four openly gay lawmakers in the legislature, said the house bill will not produce any winners or losers. "It's just very divisive in an election year," Meza told the Republic. "That's all that it will do."