Benefits, not marriage, behind Prop. 107 defeat

ASU pollster: Election didn't signal change in Arizonans' values

 by Matt Stone
 published on Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Arizona's not going blue, even though it was the first state to shoot down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have strengthened the ban on same-sex marriage.
Proposition 107 was on the ballot Nov. 7 and would have required the state and political subdivisions to recognize marriage only between one man and one woman. This proposition would have strengthened the same-sex ban already in the Arizona Constitution.
Another clause in the proposition would have denied benefits to domestic partners.
The proposition failed, 52 percent to 48 percent, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.
A Cronkite-Eight poll released Nov. 21 showed that the wording doomed the proposition, said Bruce Merrill, director of media research in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
"[Proposition 107 failing] has nothing to do with any change in conservative values in Arizona," Merrill said. "The reason it failed in Arizona was the way the proposition was written."
Arizona was the first state to reject such an amendment out of 28 that have had similar propositions on ballots. Tennessee, a state with a similar population and conservative nature to Arizona, passed their amendment this month by 81 percent.
The poll asked voters why they voted against the proposition with three possible responses.
Sixty percent of those surveyed said the proposition was unfair, violated individual rights and was too invasive by the government.
Another 30 percent said the provision denying benefits to domestic partners was wrong.
Receiving the least amount of votes, 8 percent, was the answer that those surveyed supported same-sex marriage.
The remaining 2 percent were not listed on the results.
Since the propositions had two separate changes, it left voters confused, Merrill said.
"One was banning gay marriage and [one was] to deny benefits to domestic partners," Merrill said. "[This] meant it would've denied benefits to people living together whether they're homosexual or heterosexual.
"People could've been for banning gay marriage but against denying [benefits]."
With Proposition 107 passing, state and local governments would have been
prohibited from providing legal status that comes with marriage to anything other than one man and one
One student who felt split was Katie Sachs, a political science sophomore.
Her strong Christian background pushed her to vote for the proposition, though she didn't fully agree, she said.
"The thing I don't support is gay marriage," Sachs said. "I'm not against people in committed relationships benefiting from that. I'm against using the term 'marriage.'"
If the proposition had been strictly against gay marriage, it would've stood a better chance, Sachs said.
"That definitely turned off a lot of people," Sachs said of the proposition's other half.
Even though this proposition failed, it doesn't mean same-sex marriage would be accepted anytime soon, said James Quinn, president of the ASU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer and Questioning Coalition.
"I think Arizonans realized this bill went way too far," Quinn said. "The fight against Proposition 107 would've been harder if it had been strictly a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage."
But the proposition failing could foreshadow more progressive trends in the future, Quinn said.
"I think the climate of this country is changing," he said.
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