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Police, Fire Unions Join Fight Against Arizona Anti-Gay Amendment

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Police, Fire Unions Join Fight Against Arizona Anti-Gay Amendment

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

October 12, 2006 - 9:00 pm ET

(Tempe, Arizona) The Tempe Firefighters Association and the Tempe Officers Association Thursday announced their opposition to Prop. 107, a proposed amendment to the Arizona constitution that would ban gay marriage, civil unions and void domestic partner benefits for both gay and non-gay unmarried couples.

“Our organization is opposed to Prop. 107 because it puts our candidate pool for future firefighters at risk,” said Rich Woerth, president of the Tempe Firefighters Association.

“Domestic partner benefits are an excellent recruitment tool and appeal to many of our new recruits. This benefit helps us secure the most qualified and experienced individuals who will serve Tempe residents. If Prop. 107 passes it would eliminate our ability to offer these benefits in the future, as well as impact all of the families of firefighters who are currently covered.”

Bryan Hall, president of the Tempe Officers Association, also said that if the amendment passes it would impact on recruitment.

“The Tempe Officers Association is taking a hard stance against Prop. 107 because it will seriously hinder our current benefits program used as an incentive to recruit employees,” said Hall.

“This proposition will prohibit the City of Tempe and all other public employers statewide from offering domestic benefits to unmarried couples in committed, healthy relationships. I am most concerned for the families of my fellow officers, in this organization and across the state, who will be unexpectedly stripped of their health care benefits if Prop. 107 passes. The negative affects will be far reaching and will impact public safety and law enforcement officials, as well as children and seniors."

Hall and Woerth appeared at a news conference at Tempe City Hall, along with representatives from the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and the National Association of Social Workers-Arizona Chapter.

John Campbell, vice president for AARA, said the proposed amendment would hurt Arizona seniors in a number of ways.

"It will not only deny hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights to unmarried senior couples, but could also result in serious financial losses,” he said.

“Many senior couples receiving survivor benefits choose not to get married because they would automatically lose a significant portion of their social security benefits or payments from private companies. Many cannot afford to get remarried after losing a spouse because it requires giving up pension, social security and medical insurance."

The Cities of Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe along with Pima County, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, Maricopa Community Colleges and various school districts across the state, currently offer domestic benefits such as health care, to their employees.

If the proposed amendment passes it could automatically cancel those insurance policies.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, and former University of Arizona President Peter Likins have also publicly taken a stance against Prop. 107.

On Wednesday a poll was released showing Arizonans almost equally divided on the proposed amendment. (story)

©365Gay.com 2006

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