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Sep 17, 2013 8:40 PM

New AZ campaign aims to gain support for gay marriage

TUCSON- From a gay methodist missionary, to an openly gay Arizona state senator, supporters of same-sex marriage gathered downtown Tuesday to launch a new statewide campaign.

It's called "Why Marriage Matters Arizona", created by Equality Arizona, ACLU of Arizona Foundation, Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The civil rights groups say marriage is a basic freedom everyone should have. "I think it's a human issue, not a party issue," says Beth Walkup.

Walkup's daughter is a lesbian and says she watched her child get bullied and even bruised. "I just cant tell you how bad it has been," Walkup says. "She came home with broken noses and it was very violent back when she was growing up."

Walkup doesn't want another child or adult to feel the same pain. "I'm hoping that people will understand that people who are different are still human beings with the same needs as anyone else," Walkup says.

The group hopes to educate Arizonans so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to back gay marriage.

But some organizations, such as the Center for Arizona Policy, maintain that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

"Marriage between a man and woman is a timeless institution that has proven to provide benefits to society and to be the best societal environment for men, women and children," President Cathi Herrod told News 4 Tucson over the phone.

Whether or not the majority or minority of Arizonans agree with that statement, the state could find out in 2016, when a gay marriage measure gets on the ballot. "I remain confident that when Arizonans consider the value of marriage between one man and one woman, they will continue the support of retaining our current definition and will oppose any efforts to redefine marriage," Herrod says.

Similar rallies were also held in Phoenix and Flagstaff on Tuesday. For more information about the campaign visit its Facebook page: "Why Marriage Matters Arizona"

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