Latino Leaders Unite to Support the Freedom to Marry in Arizona


Sept. 16, 2014


Jeremy Zegas, Why Marriage Matters Arizona, 602-773-6009,
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, 602-492-8540,

PHOENIX – Latino leaders joined together today in Phoenix, at the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, to announce their support for extending the freedom to marry to all loving couples in Arizona. These leaders, and prominent Latino-focused community organizations, say that they are united in their belief that no member of anyone’s family, whether gay or straight, should face discrimination when they hope to marry the person they love.

“Marriage matters for the same reasons to all people, gay or straight,” said Dolores Huerta, a longtime labor leader and activist who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar E. Chavez. “And it’s our responsibility to support inclusion of our gay and lesbian friends and family members in the important institution of marriage. I’m happy to be a part of the marriage movement and to continue the push for all loving and committed couples’ freedom to marry.”

Huerta appeared early this afternoon alongside representatives from Friendly House and Valle del Sol, two major nonprofit organizations in Phoenix that serve the Latino community, as well as Latino politicians, philanthropists, organizers and business owners.

The event was organized by Why Marriage Matters Arizona, a grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Arizona that was founded by the ACLU of Arizona, Equality Arizona, Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign. The event took place at Valle del Sol’s headquarters in Central Phoenix.

“As Latinos, we know our families are stronger when we stay together,” said Belen Gonzalez, chair of Arizona’s Latina Giving Circle. “And as a mother, I refuse to turn my back on family. That’s why I support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian people—they’re family.”

The backing from Latino leaders comes at a time when federal courts with jurisdiction over Arizona are considering overturning the state’s prohibition on marriage between two people of the same sex. On Friday, a judge for the first time ordered Arizona to recognize a same-sex marriage that was performed elsewhere.

“This is about ending discrimination, a goal that resonates with Arizona’s Latinos,” said Mark Mazon, president and CEO of Friendly House. “The freedom to marry is fundamental and equal protection of the law demands that fundamental rights be available to all people. No one should be discriminated against because they want to marry the person they love.”

Other Latino leaders in Arizona who have joined with Why Marriage Matters Arizona to support the freedom to marry include: Alfredo Gutierrez (Maricopa Community College Governing Board), Regina Romero (Tucson City Council), Colette Barajas (Centra Reality), Richard Elias (Pima County Supervisor, District 5), Danny Ortega (Ortega Law), Bettina Nava (FirstStrategic), Silvana Salcido Esparza (Barrio Café), Ezequiel Hernandez (Hernandez Global), Argie Gomez (Chicanos por la Causa), Leticia de la Vara (National Council of La Raza), Lisa Urias (Urias Communications), Louis Olivas (Professor Emeritus, W. P. Carey School of Business, ASU), Adriana Zavala Badal (Mayor of Bisbee), Mark Mazon (Friendly House), Carlos Galindo-Elvira (Valle del Sol), Steve Gallardo (State Senator), Pete Garcia (Victoria Foundation), Carlos Velasco (Fuerza Local), Edmundo Hidalgo (community leader) and Raúl Grijalva (U.S. Representative).

Latino leaders will be displaying their support for the freedom to marry in Tucson this evening as part of Tucson’s Latino/a Pride Week.

“Familia es Familia: Latino Support for the Freedom to Marry,” a community conversation with civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at Southside Presbyterian Church, 317. W. 23rd Street, Tucson, AZ 85713.

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