Stop me if you’ve heard this joke before: a Republican woman and a Tea Party Libertarian walk into a gay bar. Bartender says, “What’ll it be?” The pair responds, “Equal marriage for all in the state of Arizona.”
Funny thing about that joke is that it’s not a joke at all. In June, Republican lawyer Erin Simpson and Libertarian entrepreneur Warren Meyer joined forces to create Equal Marriage Arizona, an organization whose sole purpose was to put a measure on the 2014 ballot defining marriage as a state-recognized union of two people, regardless of gender.
Voters, however, will not see that question on the ballot next year. Yesterday, Simpson and Meyer announced that they were folding their operation, due in large part to a lack of unity support from the groups with whom they were trying to form a coalition.
“We got a substantial amount of pushback for a variety of reasons from the various LGBT groups,” Meyer told the East Valley Tribune, adding, “They don’t want a failure in 2014 to hurt momentum.”
Simpson adopted a more cynical tone, explaining, “It was more an issue, I believe, of a need to control the message and to be seen as the group that brings equal marriage to Arizona rather than people who start on the right.”
Rebecca Wininger, president of gay-rights organization Equality Arizona, rejected Simpson’s assertion, telling the Tribune, “It was clear they didn’t have a fully functional strategy.”
Moving forward, the fight for same-sex marriage in Arizona will face more difficult hurdles. In order to get a question included on the 2016 ballot, any group must abide by stricter initiative laws, which effectively means that the slightest error will bar them from inclusion. Moreover, if voter turnout in 2014 is higher than it was in 2012, they will have to collect even more signatures.
Whether or not Simpson, who’s retired from her law practice, and Meyer, who authors the site Climate-skeptic.com, will continue with the fight for marriage equality remains to be seen.