Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Last month, the Arizona Capitol Times published a puff piece about the cochairs of Equal Marriage Arizona, Erin Ogletree Simpson (a Log Cabin Republican) and Warren Meyer (a Libertarian), who are the political neophytes fronting for the Equal Marriage Arizona initiative (C-05-2014). The report borrows the "Nixon goes to China" narrative: only conservatives who have dehumanized and demonized gays for years can successfully argue for equal marriage rights for gays now. Push for same-sex marriage initiative comes from the right (subscription required).
This piece of fiction masquerading as "objective" reporting never explored nor answered the critical questions: (a) Who are these political neophytes fronting for?, and (b) Who is really behind the Equal Marriage Arizona initiative?
For the answers, we must turn to the investigative journalism of Lila Shapiro at the Huffington Post. Tim Mooney, Former Gay Marriage Foe, Launches Equality Campaign To Suspicion:
Tim Mooney doesn't fit the profile of a typical gay rights advocate. The Republican strategist worked on Utah's campaign against same-sex marriage in 2004, and helped Rick Perry become governor of Texas.
Yet Mooney is the unlikely figure behind a pair of under-the-radar ballot initiatives to legalize same-sex marriage in Arizona and Florida. The campaigns, called Equal Marriage Florida and Equal Marriage Arizona, began in June, just before the Supreme Court announced its landmark ruling on same-sex marriage.
In recent months, as word of these efforts has spread through the gay rights community, veteran strategists have responded with suspicion and alarm, and have declined to lend their support.
In interviews with The Huffington Post, a dozen gay rights advocates noted that same-sex marriage remains unpopular among some demographic groups in both Florida and Arizona. They argued that the time is not yet right to bring the issue to a vote in those states, especially without enlisting the broader gay rights community to build support among voters.
Some advocates go further, suggesting Mooney's campaigns are aimed at draining resources from gay rights groups, or at opportunistically profiting from the gay rights movement's momentum.
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Mooney set the campaigns in motion after securing an endorsement from Gary Johnson, the libertarian nominee for president in 2012. Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, is a longtime supporter of marriage equality.
Johnson had already been considering getting involved with a ballot campaign when Mooney began his efforts, Johnson's spokesman, Joe Hunter, said. "We decided that Arizona was certainly a place where there was support and it would be worth pursuing and the same with Florida," Hunter said.
But most gay rights advocates said they see it differently. Marc Solomon, the national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, a leading advocacy group devoted to legalizing same-sex marriage, is among the dozens of veteran gay rights advocates who have expressed skepticism about Mooney’s strategy.
"We want to be involved in every kind of marriage campaign that results in a victory," Solomon said. "From our vantage point, the first step is to demonstrate a clear pathway to victory."
Republican gay rights advocates also questioned the campaigns’ prospects. The American Unity Fund, one of the largest Republican-led efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S., is still evaluating the chances for success in ballot initiatives. "We're really assessing what timeline and what approach is going to be most effective," said Jeff Cook-McCormac, a senior adviser at American Unity Fund.
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[E]xperts said the Arizona effort is unlikely to succeed without the backing of the broader gay rights community and the deep pockets of those who have helped finance successful campaigns in other states.
"In order to win a ballot measure campaign, you have to be smart and strategic," Justine Sarver, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a progressive group specializing in ballot initiatives, wrote in an email about the two campaigns."In this case, that means working with the national and local groups who have experience winning marriage campaigns."
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Johnson's spokesman, Joe Hunter, acknowledged the challenges. "We absolutely recognize that Florida is difficult and it may be a longer-term effort rather than shorter-term," he said. "But you have to begin the effort." Hunter added Mooney hails from Arizona and the team consulted people from both Arizona and Florida before filing paperwork and starting the campaigns. National and local gay rights groups said they were informed of the Florida and Arizona campaigns only after paperwork had been filed.
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Gay-rights advocates who have met with Mooney said he professes a change of heart since leading the battle against same-sex marriage in Utah in 2004.
Not everyone believes him. One national strategist, who asked not to be named, described Mooney's sudden interest in gay rights as a “recipe for mistrust.”
“Who is this guy?” the strategist asked. “He came out of nowhere."
Andrew Koppelman, a professor of law and political science at Northwestern University, said he wasn't surprised at the skepticism, given Mooney's background. “One of the basic rules of a stealth organization is that when a reporter calls you asking what you're doing, you do not return the phone call," Koppelman said.
Mooney is no stranger to covert maneuvers. In Texas, he organized a campaign to put the Green Party on the gubernatorial ballot in order to split the Democratic vote, contributing to Perry's victory.
Koppelman questioned whether Mooney’s latest maneuver is another disguised attempt to sabotage opponents. "Is this just going to suck up money on the left?” he asked, before suggesting that the campaign may also aim to bring out more Republican voters. “It’s clear that this is an issue that has in the past helped to mobilize the Republican base,” Koppelman said. “That has got to be on the mind of any smart Republican strategist.”
As momentum grows for the gay rights movement, concerns about people who would like to profit from that success grow, too, said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications and marketing at the Human Rights Campaign. "One of the concerns that activists are always going to have is whether or not an individual has a profit motive and will put their profit above the good strategic best interest of our movement," he said.
These are all excellent points. If this was a serious effort, the national LGBT and marriage equality organizations would all be financially backing this initiative. They are not. This has all the earmarks of a stealth initiative to achieve other purposes. Do not waste your time, effort and money on this inititative. Don't get fooled. Wait for the real deal. That initiative is coming in 2016.