Campaign aims to register gay voters - East Valley Tribune: News

Campaign aims to register gay voters

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Posted: Thursday, August 5, 2004 10:18 am | Updated: 5:00 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

August 5, 2004

Former state Rep. Steve May used to get calls from people who said gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Wednesday, the openly gay politician was part of an event to register gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered voters at the Scottsdale bar BS West, 7125 Fifth Ave.

“Right now, our rights have never been more threatened. Our constitution has never been more threatened,” May said.

The campaign, “Vote with Unity,” is organized by the Arizona Human Rights Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, Arizona Stonewall Democrats, Log Cabin Republicans, Chute and ECHO Magazine.

The goal is to register at least 3,000 voters, whether they are part of the gay community or its allies, and educate them on the issues that affect them, said Sam Holdren, program manager with the Arizona Human Rights Foundation.

While Holdren admits 3,000 new voters may not seem like much, he thinks the difference can be huge.

“Any small impact will be significant in the upcoming election,” he said.

Some aren’t so sure, however.

“I don’t think the gay vote is going to tip anything,” said Rep. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa. “I just don’t think there are enough of them.”

Johnson said despite her opposition to the gay agenda, she thinks everyone has a right to register and vote their conscience.

“Sometimes I think that might invigorate others to come out and vote the other way,” she said.

May, who lost a 2002 Republican primary by 58 votes, said this registration campaign harks back to gay-vote campaigns of the late 1980s and early ’90s.

During that time, many openly gay politicians and issues were voted into office or passed, he said.

“They had a very serious, concerted effort to register voters,” he said. “It’s kind of like going back to our roots.”

As the elections approach, organizers will call, and send e-mails and voter guides to those they register.

Holdren said it’s important to go out to the bars and businesses and to talk to people face to face about registering.

“I didn’t even care to vote, but my friends have been pressuring me, and then (campaign people) were just here at the door,” said Ned McCourt, 24, of Scottsdale.

“Vote with Unity” will be registering voters at clubs and nightclubs all week.

The next East Valley event will be 9 to 11 p.m. Thursday at Tinseltown Tavern & Grill, 2017 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

For more information on the campaign, visit www.votewithunity.org.

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