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Gay rights in Yuma County take a proud step forward
Yuma's The Amancio Project and The Yuma County Gay Rights Meetup recently met with other gay rights organizations around the state to discuss how to next proceed in light of the passage of Prop 102 in Arizona and similar issues across the United States.
The passage of Proposition 102 created a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in Arizona. As a result, the constitution now states a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.
"It is not a matter of whether same-sex marriages are right or wrong, who cares?" said Michael H. Baughman, founder of The Amancio Project. "It is a matter of putting something into a constitution that denies people rights."
Proposition 102, a stripped-down version of the one rejected at the polls two years ago, was passed 57 percent to 43 percent.
"Even though Prop 102 lost, I still view it as a positive," Baughman said. "I see a slow intellectual change occurring in people's minds."
In explaining that remark, Baughman said the difference between the "yes" votes and "no" votes was smaller than it was two years ago for a similar measure.
"It says that Yuma is growing up," Baughman said.
In 2006, voters made normally socially conservative Arizona the only state to reject a same-sex marriage ban on the ballot.
Baughman said now is the time for the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) community and allies to come together in mutual support, honoring the anger and disappointment they feel about the passage of Prop 102 and to heal.
Even more important, Baughman said, they need to channel their feelings, strengths and energy into a positive force for social change.
To facilitate that effort, Baughman said GLBT organizers representing Equality Arizona, Wingspan, The Prescott Pride Center, Flagstaff Pride, Yuma's The Amancio Project and The Yuma County Gay Rights Meetup had their meeting with their focus being on the election in 2010.
Toward that end, a town-hall style meeting consisting of some of the most energetic GLBT rights activist will gather for a daylong event to formulate future strategies to secure present rights and to gain future rights, according to Baughman.
That meeting will be in Phoenix from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 6. For more information and to RSVP for the event and take a short survey to help define the most important issues, contact Equality Arizona at www.equalityarizona.org or Meta Goforth-Zinn at 1-602-650-0900.
Baughman added, "Thanks to our continued and vocal voice here in Yuma, we have finally been actively included in planning further Arizona GLBT action - a proud step forward for GLBT rights in Yuma County."
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.