PHOENIX - The debate over whether Arizonans should ban gay marriage spilled over Thursday into a discussion of feminism, working women and stay-at-home moms.
"These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks, (think that) is some sort of feminism because they're choosing to live that life,'' she said.
The fact that Sinema is the chair of Arizona Together, the organization opposing Proposition 107, did not go unnoticed:
Backers of that measure responded Thursday with a rally at the Capitol - and some attacks of their own.
"This is the most hateful thing I have ever hear from a state representative,'' complained Nancy Salmon, state chair of United Families International. She said the evidence shows that the children of mothers who stay at home are better adjusted and have better values than those placed in child care.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said Sinema's comments pull the veil off the opposition to the initiative.
"They have kept their ultraliberal agenda hidden - until now,' she said. "I think it's about a culture in which marriage means nothing or anything goes,'' Herrod explained. "The liberal point of view is that marriage does not contribute to society and it's meaningless and pointless in our culture.''
Sinema said her critics were reading too much into a question-and-answer interview that she said was meant to be a light-hearted spoof.
For example, the openly bisexual legislator is asked what's the best way to hit on a politician at a nightclub. Sinema responded that she doesn't go much because "I feel short and fat, and they don't have those kinds of people at nightclubs.'' And she discusses her seven pairs of glasses and her wardrobe, describing herself as "a Prada socialist,'' saying people can still believe in fairness and justice "and still have fabulous accessories.''
Sinema apologized if anyone took offense. "I was raised by a stay-at-home mom,'' she said. "So, she did a pretty good job with me.''
And Sinema said she has "the deepest respect for people who choose to make decisions in their lives that work for them and their family.''
Sinema also said Herrod is wrong in saying that she and others who oppose Proposition 107 believe marriage does not contribute to the community. But she sidestepped the question of whether she believes gays should be able to marry, saying that's not the issue before voters.
Proposition 107 would constitutionally define marriage as solely between one man and one woman. It also would bar lawmakers or courts from permitting civil unions to unmarried couples and bar governments from offering the same benefits to unmarried couples that they do to their employees who are married. Sinema said the Arizona Supreme Court, unlike New Jersey, already has ruled that gays cannot wed, making benefits the only issue.
But the court here was not asked to require lawmakers to provide an alternative to marriage for same-sex couples that provide the same benefits - albeit without the word "marriage.'' Herrod, talking about the role of women, described herself as a "former feminist.''
"I danced with the feminist label when I was in my 20s and realized it's a pack of lies."