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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hundreds oppose Prop. 107

    Fenton Johnson, an associate professor of English, holds a petition against Proposition 107 at his home yesterday evening. Johnson and the signers of the document are working to defeat the controversial proposition, which would require government programs to end domestic-partnership benefits.
    Fenton Johnson, an associate professor of English, holds a petition against Proposition 107 at his home yesterday evening. Johnson and the signers of the document are working to defeat the controversial proposition, which would require government programs to end domestic-partnership benefits.

    More than 250 UA faculty, staff and graduate students have signed a letter opposing Proposition 107, also known as the Protect Marriage Arizona Act.

    Concerns over the negative effects that Proposition 107 would have on the UA community are expressed in the letter, which has received signatures from prominent members of the community, including deans and former UA president Peter Likins, said Fenton Johnson, an associate professor of English and member of the UA President’s LGBT Advisory Council.

    Proposition 107 is more commonly recognized as the proposition against gay marriage, but its effects are more far-reaching, said Kathy Altman, also a member of the UA President’s LGBT Advisory Council.

    “”The proposition is not healthy for the UA community,”” Altman said. “”It’s not good for business or attracting students, staff and qualified faculty. When other universities do offer benefits to domestic partners, that makes the UA less competitive.””

    Currently, the UA is the only one of the Pacific 10 Conference schools that does not offer benefits such as health care coverage and pension benefits to people registered as domestic partners, Johnson said.

    “”It’s already an issue with recruiting, hiring and maintaining faculty and staff. If the amendment is passed, I’d have to say ‘No, there’s no possibility of you getting benefits here,'”” Johnson said.

    In 2005, Likins was able to secure a tuition reduction program for registered domestic partners of UA employees and their dependents, but these benefits would cease with Proposition 107, Johnson said.

    “”It’s a financial issue and a creation of a hostile environment,”” Johnson said. “”It sends the message, ‘We don’t want you here.'””

    Proposition 107 would not only affect gay couples but would also have an impact on heterosexual partnerships, Altman said.

    Older people may not want to remarry for a number of reasons, such as avoiding the loss of benefits due to their independence. The majority of people do not find this immoral or improper, Likins said.

    “”The great majority of registered domestic partners are mixed-gender couples,”” Johnson said. “”But the real target is gays and lesbians. There’s no doubt about that.””

    But Cathi Herrod, spokeswoman for Protect Marriage Arizona, said Proposition 107 is meant to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage in Arizona.

    “”A ‘yes’ vote on Prop. 107 stops activists from using courts to redefine marriage,”” Herrod said. “”Marriage has been a foundation of society, and it has built communities.””

    But Likins said the true purpose of the proposition is not to protect marriage.

    “”Prop. 107 seems to be focused on defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman, when in fact it is already state law,”” Likins said. “”I’m frankly offended that people on the marriage protection side are trying to deceive the voters to pass the proposition.””

    Brent Wofford, a mechanical engineering freshman, said those who are for the proposition may support the amendment due to religious beliefs.

    “”I’m Christian, and we don’t believe in same-sex marriage,”” Wofford said. “”But everybody has their own opinions. I don’t want to bash anyone else’s beliefs. I guess that’s why we vote.””

    Similar propositions have been passed in at least 10 other states, and if the proposition is voted down, Arizona will be the first state that has defeated such a proposition, Johnson said.

    Sarah Flores, a pre-physiology sophomore, said because gay marriage is already illegal in Arizona, adding an amendment to Arizona’s state constitution would be pointless.

    “”The purpose of Prop. 107 isn’t very clear,”” Flores said. “”Some bad legislation is disguised behind the Protect Marriage Arizona slogan.””

    Likins will address a rally on the UA Mall about Proposition 107 Oct. 23 at 12:30 p.m. College deans are also expected to speak out against the proposition at future rallies, Johnson said.

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