News (USA)

New campaign in Ariz. aims to build support for marriage equality by 2016

New campaign in Ariz. aims to build support for marriage equality by 2016

PHOENIX — Marriage equality advocates have launched a public-education campaign to build support in Arizona for same-sex marriage, with an eye toward the 2016 election.

The campaign, “Why Marriage Matters Arizona,” is led by a coalition including Equality Arizona, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Why-Marriage-Matters-AZThe grassroots campaign launched Tuesday with rallies in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, and will share the stories of gay and lesbian couples and make the argument that they deserve equality and the legal right to marry.

“The national landscape for marriage is shifting rapidly,” Rebecca Wininger, president of Equality Arizona, said in a statement. “It’s time to get the conversation started here in Arizona.”

While it is only an education campaign right now, supporters are hoping to gain enough support to repeal the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot in 2016.

Wininger said a win in Arizona could be something of a tipping point for same-sex marriage in other conservative states.

“I also think it will begin to repair some of the national damage we’ve had to our reputation of being a very intolerant state,” Wininger said.

The conservative Center for Arizona Policy has already begun pushing against the new campaign, releasing a statement calling it a “social experiment to redefine marriage.”

Earlier this month, a plan to put the issue before voters in 2014 was scrapped amid reluctance by national and local advocacy groups to back the measure.

Sheila Kloefkorn, an Arizonan who serves as a national board member of the Human Rights Campaign, said that while there is increased support in Arizona to legalize same-sex marriage, there is not enough to win in 2014.

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