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Arizona activists push for vote on same-sex marriage ban

Arizona activists push for vote on same-sex marriage ban

Arizona already has a law prohibiting same-sex marriages, but some activists are pushing for a state constitutional amendment to provide a safeguard against any court rulings. Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, a lobbying group, said she and others will ask the state legislature to place a referendum on the November 2006 ballot. The group also plans to launch a petition drive to place an initiative on the ballot. They would need at least 183,917 valid signatures. Supporters of the proposition say it would be similar in part to those approved last Tuesday by voters in 11 states, which defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Arizona lawmakers failed during the 2004 legislative session to approve a postcard to Congress urging it to amend the U.S. Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages. But state senate president Ken Bennett said there is a good chance the legislature will vote during its 2005 session to put a state constitutional amendment before voters. Bruce Merrill, a pollster and political science professor at Arizona State University who has studied the issue, said there appears to be widespread public support to close every pathway to gay marriage. "It's not just the religious right," Merrill said. "The core who would support this measure are those who go to church. But there are many who aren't religious and are concerned with the breakdown of the family." Incoming state representative Mark Anderson said he will introduce legislation seeking a ballot referendum and that colleagues in the senate will do the same. "It looks very promising," Anderson said. "Marriage is the foundation of successful families and must be protected."

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