PHOENIX — Facing a splintered gay-rights community, supporters of legalizing same-sex weddings in Arizona have pulled the plug on putting the issue to voters next year.
“We got a substantial amount of pushback for a variety of reasons from the various LGBT groups,’’ said Warren Meyer, chairman of the campaign.
Most significant, he said, is the belief 2014 is too soon to push the issue in Arizona. Meyer, a Phoenix businessman, said many believe the issue would fare better in a presidential election year.
He said that national gay-rights organizations that might be expected to provide substantial support would prefer to focus their efforts next year in other states where there is more pronounced support for allowing same-sex nuptials.
“They don’t want a failure in 2014 to hurt momentum,’’ he said.
But Erin Simpson, a retired Tucson attorney who also was part of the initiative drive, said the kickback from other groups had little to do with the question of timing.
“It was more an issue, I believe, of a need to control the message,” she said.
Simpson said she and many of those involved in this measure came at it from the right side of the political spectrum, including Republicans and Libertarians.
From that perspective, she said, the best way of getting a state like Arizona to allow gay weddings is to push the issue not as one of gay rights but as one of personal privacy while protecting the rights of religious groups that may have different ideas.
But Rebecca Wininger, president of Equality Arizona, said the plan by Meyer and Simpson was shaping up to be a sure-fired loser — a loss that would set back the movement.
“It was clear they didn’t have a fully functional strategy,’’ she said. That included raising the funds needed not only to gather the close to 300,000 signatures that would be needed, but then to sell the plan to voters.
Wininger said the two-year delay is not by choice.
“As a gay woman I want the right (to marry) and I want it now,’’ she said. But she said polling showed “we’re not where we need to be for 2014.’’
The decision cheered Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, one of the groups that pushed through Arizona’s 2008 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“Redefining marriage is a nonstarter today in Arizona, regardless of the out-of-state money and numerous political operatives that poured into our state for this failed effort,’’ she said in a prepared statement. Herrod said she believes the bid to overturn the 2008 amendment will fare no better in 2016.