Between the Lines: Identifying the Needs of LGBTQ Immigrants and Refugees in Southern Arizona

Exploring the Defeat of Arizona's Marriage Amendment and the Specter of the Immigrant as Queer

by Karma R. Chávez
Southern Communication Journal
Arizona voters became the first in the United States to defeat a so-called marriage amendment, "Protect Marriage Arizona" (PMA), in 2006. Also that year, PMA joined four ballot measures targeting the rights of immigrants on the Arizona ballot. At the same time that these immigration measures overwhelming passed by 3-1 margins, PMA failed, making LGBT history. This essay argues that PMA failed in Arizona because the anti-PMA campaign, Arizona Together, used "straight-washing" and "white-washing" strategies. These strategies proved successful because immigrants have been positioned as the most "queer" and deviant group in Arizona. While such strategies may have garnered short-term success, in 2008, in a different political environment in regard to immigration, Arizonans approved a marriage amendment, showing the limitations of such politically expedient strategies.
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