Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Straight Talk Wins in Arizona: Want to Get Straight People to Vote against an Antigay Ballot Initiative? Make It All about Them

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Straight Talk Wins in Arizona: Want to Get Straight People to Vote against an Antigay Ballot Initiative? Make It All about Them

Article excerpt

Margaret Cramer couldn't stay up late enough to watch her political efforts pay off. The Arizona election results were due in way past her bedtime.

Cramer, 7, wanted to know. She had spent Election Day at the polls, standing alongside her two mommies. She boldly encouraged voters to reject an amendment that could nullify her parents' few relationship rights.

So early the next morning, the little girl bounced out of bed and ran right to one mother asking, "Did we win? Did we win?"

They did.

Arizona gay rights advocates--Margaret's mothers, Amelia Craig Cramer and Amy Cramer, among them--had waged the first successful campaign in the nation to defeat an anti-same-sex marriage amendment, convincing voters to reject Proposition 107 by 51% to 49%.

The result marked an important point in the history of the gay rights movement, especially as it happened in a state that many have described as the birthplace of modern conservatism. Before Arizona, every state constitutional marriage ban placed on a ballot had passed. On November 7, South Dakota, Virginia, Idaho, Colorado, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin joined 20 other states that have written antigay language into their state constitutions.

So how did gay rights advocates win in the red state of Arizona? By running two parallel and completely different anti-amendment campaigns, that's how. And now political pundits are praising the strategy as a winning formula in the fight against future amendments.

The first campaign--No on 107--was a traditional grassroots effort run by gay activists and based in liberal Tucson. Cindy Jordan, chair of the campaign, says No on 107 didn't have much money but raised enough to fund radio ads on 14 stations featuring local leaders talking about how harmful Prop 107 would be. "Our tactics wouldn't necessarily work everywhere, but they galvanized people here," Jordan says.

Prop 107 had strong support from Arizona's Catholic leaders and even from U.S. senator and Republican presidential hopeful John McCain. McCain voted against a federal anti-same-sex marriage amendment but appeared in commercials advocating for Prop 107. (Repeated calls by The Advocate to McCain's office seeking comment had not been returned as of press time.)

It was McCain and other straight people publicly advocating for discrimination against gay people that got Kyrsten Sinema thinking. As chair of the second anti-amendment campaign--Arizona Together-she decided to fight fire with fire. "We could have run this campaign two ways," she says. "Either we used Prop 107 just to educate voters this time around without expecting to beat it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.