Cathi Herrod's Center for Arizona Policy Hates Gays, Abortions, and Likes to Tell Politicians What to Do

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Herrod, then CAP's lobbyist and second fiddle to group president Len Munsil, told the Arizona Republic that the statutes "set a standard that favored marital relations over cohabitation and same-sex relationships in our state."

Truly, the bugbear of same-sex marriage looms large in CAP's world.

Munsil, who led CAP from about 1994 to 2006, claims responsibility for drafting the 1996 statute that declared "marriage between persons of the same sex is void and prohibited."

In 2006, the same year Munsil ran for governor as the GOP nominee against incumbent Janet Napolitano, CAP backed Prop 107, a constitutional same-sex marriage ban that ultimately failed at the polls, with 52 percent voting against the prohibition.

Many believed the measure failed because, as written, it also would have banned domestic-partner benefits in the state.

The same year, voters also decided Munsil was too extreme, handing Democrat Janet Napolitano a 50-to-41 victory.

The symbolism was telling. Voters rejected Munsil, a clean-cut, family-values candidate, in favor of an unmarried Napolitano, whom many observers assume is a closeted lesbian.

As Napolitano herself had pointed out before the election, there already was a law — Munsil's law — prohibiting same-sex unions. A constitutional amendment was unnecessary.

But Herrod, then CAP's interim president, would lead another charge to amend the state constitution in 2008, this time with a simplified version that wouldn't affect benefits for domestic partners.

The refined initiative, Prop 102, was referred to the ballot by the Legislature on the last day of its session with the help of notorious shenanigans by state Senator Jack Harper, a CAP supporter who cut off gay Democrats' filibuster of the resolution.

Prop 102 prevailed by a 56-to-44 vote.

In a YouTube interview for CAP's legislative ally Alliance Defending Freedom, Herrod called the passage of Prop 102 "one of the greatest victories" ever for the Center for Arizona Policy.

"Arizona went from the only state in the country to defeat a marriage amendment, in 2006, to pass a marriage amendment, in 2008," she said proudly.

Nevertheless, the LGBT community remained a frequent CAP target. In 2012, Herrod was blamed for single-handedly killing an anti-bullying bill sponsored by state Senator David Schapira.

According to Democrat Schapira, Frank Antenori, the Senate Republican whip at the time, used an obscure rule to keep the bill — which addressed bullying in schools and didn't mention gays — to delay a vote.

"[Antenori] held it until the very last day to transmit bills over to the House," recalls Schapira, now out of the Legislature and running for the Tempe City Council.

"When I asked him to release it, he said Cathi Herrod had told him it was a 'backdoor gay bill — no pun intended,' and that, therefore, he was not going to release it."

Antenori, who is also out of the Legislature now, remembers things differently.

"I never said that," Antenori replies when asked about the alleged "backdoor" comment. "I did tell [Schapira] that [Herrod] had heartburns with it. And several members had concerns because they saw it as a cloaked social engineering-slash-liberal indoctrination bill."

In any case, Schapira finally got the bill to the floor for a vote, and it passed. But it was minutes past the deadline for House consideration. The bill was dead.

At a press conference soon after the bill's demise, Schapira berated Herrod, saying even Republican staffers regarded her as a "terrorist," and he went on to call her a "legislative terrorist."

In an online memo to CAP followers, Herrod suggested that Schapira's bill was part of an agenda by gay-rights groups "to gain access to our public schools" so gays could "teach the anti-bullying training to our students."

Schapira still becomes angry when discussing the episode. He says the only legislators who had a problem with the bill parroted CAP's talking points to him or admitted that they wouldn't vote for it because Herrod didn't want them to — or both.

Neither Herrod nor CAP have made bones about their willingness to discriminate against others.

A volunteer application for CAP on file with stopcap.org makes this clear.

"As a religious institution," it states, "CAP is permitted and reserves the right to select volunteers on the basis of religion."

The application also requires that the applicant sign a statement of faith, affirming that his or her views comport with CAP's.

During a panel discussion at the 2012 National Religious Freedom conference in the nation's capital, Herrod defended her right to discriminate.

"I'm a licensed attorney with the state of Arizona," Herrod told her audience. "Two different times our State Bar of Arizona tried to enact provisions that would prohibit me from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression — both in the oath I'm required to take and in my ethical rules."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons