Two Ariz. Lawmakers Push Proposal to Ban Domestic Partner Benefits

January 16, 2005

A proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriages in Arizona would outlaw all government-sponsored benefits to domestic partners.

Republican Reps. Mark Anderson and Warde Nichols said their proposal will mirror those of other states with voter-approved bans on domestic partner benefits.

Some Republican lawmakers want Arizona voters to approve the constitutional change in 2006 to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

They also want to prohibit cities and other government groups from offering health insurance and other benefits to unmarried couples.

Though Arizona already prohibits gay marriage, Nichols said changing the constitution is necessary to protect it against court rulings that could open the door for such unions.

If their legislative proposal fails, Nichols and Anderson plan to start collecting the necessary 183,917 valid signatures needed to place it on the ballot.

The two lawmakers said their goal is to protect the sanctity of marriage and discourage unconventional unions.

“The benefits would only be available to married individuals,” Nichols said Tuesday. “We’re talking about such benefits as health care. Anything that costs money.”

Steve May, co-chairman of the Arizona Human Rights Fund gay and lesbian advocacy group, called the proposal “a mean-spirited attempt to take health insurance way.”

“This is nothing more than a power grab by legislators who want to use government to impose their personal morality on everybody in the state,” May added.

Nichols said the domestic partner provision would apply to unmarried couples because the goal of the constitutional change is to protect the sanctity of marriage and at the same time save taxpayers’ money.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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