PHOENIX — Arizona has been a disappointment to anti-gay marriage activists since 2006, when the state became the first in the nation to reject a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage.
Those same opponents are hoping for redemption Tuesday, when Arizona voters again will have to decide whether they want the state's constitution to be amended to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
"It actually helped us out having it fail the first time because it allowed us to raise more money," said state Sen. Ron Gould, a Republican and prime sponsor of this year's measure, which was put on the ballot by the Legislature. "It just motivates people to put the remote down, get out of the La-Z-Boy and do something."
Twenty-seven states have approved anti-gay marriage ballot measures, including seven in 2006. Similar measures are being considered in California and Florida this year.
Although Arizona voters turned down the 2006 measure, there is a big difference between that one and this year's measure, Proposition 102.
The 2006 initiative went beyond banning gay marriage. It also would have barred government entities from providing employee benefits to unmarried couples living together — also known as civil unions or domestic partnerships.
A postelection poll found that a majority, 60 percent, of those who voted against the measure said they felt it violated individual rights.
This year's measure, as its backers point out, is 20 words: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state."
"The simplicity of the amendment is what's going to help it pass," said Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, one of the backers of the anti-gay marriage measure.
Those 20 words would be added to the state's constitution if Proposition 102 passes. The state already has a law, enacted in 1996 and upheld in 2003 by a state appellate court, that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
Backers say they want the constitutional change because they're trying to prevent judges from legislating from the bench and turning it over.
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Opponents see the Arizona initiative as pouring salt on a wound.
Video: Conn. OKs same-sex marriage "It's clearly discriminatory, it's clearly hurtful, and we see this as something that is unfair, unneeded, and a complete waste of time, energy, and resources," said Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.
Democratic state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, chairwoman of the group opposing the gay marriage ban, said Arizonans are not worried about same-sex marriage.
Video: Struggling over same-sex marriage "Arizona voters have really important issues on their minds," she said. "They're concerned about the economy, they're concerned about the mortgage crisis, they're concerned about gas prices. Heck, they're concerned about the price of milk these days.
"The state Legislature chose to ignore those pressing problems and instead decided to spend time debating an issue voters already decided in 2006," she said.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, an Arizona senator, opposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage but supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages and gives states the right to refuse to recognize such marriages.
A recent statewide poll of 976 registered voters found that 49 percent of those surveyed would support the proposal. Forty-two percent said they would vote against it, and 9 percent were undecided.
The poll was conducted Sept. 25 through Sept. 28 by KAET-TV and Arizona State University. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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