So, Arizonans will have a second opportunity this November to insert a definition in the state constitution that would deny some couples a government license to marry.
That’s all that would be accomplished by this “defense of marriage” ballot measure sent to voters on the final day of the 2008 legislative session. Similar to what is already in state law, the proposed constitutional amendment could only recognize a legal marriage as between one man and one woman.
This proposed amendment won’t stop couples of the same gender from loving each other or sharing a home or being recognized by churches and religions that support such relationships. It won’t stop same-sex couples from uniting their lives and their families and their checking accounts.
That’s what a 2006 proposed constitutional amendment might have done, but Arizonans rejected that notion in part because it would have had the same effect on unmarried straight couples.
This year’s ballot measure really wouldn’t even stop same-sex couples from getting married, since that’s now the law in Massachusetts and California while civil unions are available in seven other states. But changing the state constitution would mandate that Arizona keep ignoring same-sex couples licensed in other states, at least until this notion is tested under the U.S. Constitution.
Of course, Californians are expected to vote on their own constitutional amendment Nov. 4 that would roll back access to marriage licenses for gay and lesbians couples granted by that state’s highest court. However, it’s a dicey question as to whether California voters will rip away the marriage licenses issued since May amid a gradual, if grudging, cultural acceptance of gays and lesbians in the United States and around the world.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s version would simply further cement what’s already in place. That doesn’t make it right, and that shouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to vote for governmental discrimination against two consenting adults. But if it passes here, at least there won’t be any immediate harm involved.