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On this issue of principle, the amendment's opponents trust Mayor Johnson and the council to gauge the prevailing political winds and act accordingly. While the city's gay community may be well-organized, it is a small bloc that can be overwhelmed if Pastor Godzich and other leaders mobilize their Moral Majoritarians.

And despite the Arizona Republic's 2-to-1" estimate, at least seven more people will speak against the amendment than will speak in its favor. The hearing is devised so pros and cons alternate three-minute statements, sometimes bristling past each other with barely concealed contempt. Both sides are capable of rudeness to opposing speakers, despite the admonishments of long-suffering Bruce Hamilton. When amendment advocates speak, the Reverend Cosentino fits his camcorder to his eye and films them, a tactic that disconcerts and eventually dissuades some of the signed-up from following through.

But despite the tension, there are moments of gentleness, too. Occasionally Godzich will raise himself up and forward to gooseneck the microphone into position for audio-challenged speakers.

Almost every speaker who opposed the amendment took swipes at the putative immorality of the homosexual lifestyle:

The homosexual wants to force others to accept his lifestyle, even when those others have opposing convictions," says Lesley Oxley, the first citizen to speak. The average homosexual is a health risk and an inappropriate role model for young children in the eyes of many," Cathi Herrod, the Arizona director of a group called Concerned Women for America, adds a few moments later. I would personally and literally be burning in Hell right now...my sins would have sent me to Hell as sure as your sins of homosexuality and lesbianism will do to you if you don't repent," the Reverend Cosentino piles on later.

Heidi Robinson calls homosexuality a metaphysical negation of life," and Wayne Santore claims he was in bondage for 35 years with transsexualism," but that with God on our side we can still win that victory over Satan on transsexualism and homosexuality." David Bradshaw, who introduces himself as the host of a national talk program called World View Perspective," says it is a known fact that oftentimes body fluids find their way into the food we eat at restaurants" and that hiring gays in restaurants would exacerbate the AIDS epidemic.

Perhaps David Jones, standing in his Airborne Express uniform, replete with epaulets, puts it plainest: I do believe it is a moral issue. I mean, there's no way of saying it's not...I don't want to say homosexuals are child molesters, but some of these, that's their sexual preference; they say, `Well, that's what I like.'"

Just before midnight, grandfather Tony Bogard issues the council a stern warning: My Bible, the King James Version, says if a man was found laying with another man, they both have to be taken outside the city walls and stoned to death. Remember this, city council." ²Dale Russell, one of the final voices of the night, is a young man who scrapes seven feet but seems crippled by shyness. Still, he speaks directly: ÔIt's wrong, homosexual is wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong. ... "

Godzich nods at some of the statements, but most of the time he listens impassively.

But he also delivers his own statement tonight.
In fact, he abandons" his prepared text to deliver a fiery critique of a political body that cares so little about its people that it would actually provide incentives for them to engage in soul-murdering sin. Like Donna, the woman in the Minnie Mouse tee shirt who believes the punishment for sin is death, Godzich says he doesn't hate homosexuals.


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Philip Martin