Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 24, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Black Board of Directors


  • For more than 20 years, the Black Board of Directors has been helping African-Americans get on boards like the State Board of Education.
Guests:
  • Clint Bolick - Alliance For School Choice
  • John Wright - Arizona Education Association
  • Krysten Sinema - Democratic Representative


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," a couple of bills that would allow corporations to make donations to school tuition organizations and receive a tax credit are making their way through the legislature.

>>> Michael Grant:
Another bill that has been passed by the House, a "postcard" to congress from the legislature calling for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

>>> Michael Grant:
And for more than 20 years, the Black Board of Directors has been helping African-Americans get on boards like the State Board of Education. We'll talk about those topics next, on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the friends of channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Two bills are currently making their way through the legislature that would make tax tuition credits available to corporations. The tax credits were created by the legislature in 1997 and allow individuals who make contributions to student tuition organizations to receive a dollar for dollar tax credit. School tuition organizations then give money to students attending private schools. Now, Senate Bill 1176 has been passed by the full Senate. House Bill 2378 has been passed by the House Appropriations Committee. Both bills would allow corporations to make donations to school tuition organizations of up to $10,000 and get that money back as a tax credit. Donations above $10,000 could be made and received as a credit, but that would require approval by the Department of Revenue, so the cap on total tax credits given does not exceed $10 million, which is the cap for the first year. 90\% of the contributions would have to go to students from low income families. Here now to discuss the bills are Clint Bolick of the Alliance For School Choice, which favors the bills, and John Wright of the Arizona Education Association, which is against the bills. Gentlemen, it's good to see you again. John, you are spending too much time on the show.

>> John Wright:
Glad to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
Argument number one against tax credits, Clint, they syphon money away from the public school system and do more harm than good. What do you say?

>> Clint Bolick:
Absolutely not. If Arizona schools were well educating students, there would be no demand for these, but unfortunately, about four-fifths of all black and Hispanic kids when they graduate are far behind in reading and mathematics. We need alternatives. This bill does not take money from public schools at all. On the contrary, it only applies to students who are transferring from public to private schools, and because the scholarships will not be for the same amount of money that public schools would be using, there should be a net tax savings.

>> Michael Grant:
On the other hand, those, those schools that they leave will not get the same amount of public support.

>> Clint Bolick:
Nor should they. It's rare to find any sort of place where if a customer leaves, there isn't any sort of financial consequence. What we've seen all around the country is that when there are choices in education, the public schools improve because there is a competitive incentive for them to improve. If the parents are not satisfied, they should be able to take their kids and money with them.

>> Michael Grant:
John, we're talking a universe of $10 million in a $7-$8 billion dollar state budget. Is this an argument to say it's draining coffers?

>> John Wright:
It is a state expenditure. The state decides to spend money for a purpose. When we're trying to balance a budget, when we're trying to make sure we can pay police officers to fund Child Protective Services, to make sure we don't have long waiting lists for child care, to take that money out of the system, to pay the tuition for students who would go to those schools anyway to subsidize the tuition with tax dollars is bad policy. It's bad for economics. It's bad education policy. Our schools are doing heroic work for the children who come through those doors, which we want to improve, but by offering this sort of drain on the funding, we are neat helping anybody.

>> Michael Grant:
Unfortunately, some of the students who most frequently get left behind by the public school system are the very students that this tax credit bill is aimed at, low income students.

>> John Wright:
We need to do a lot of work to close the achievement gap. We don't close it by funding a separate system that's unequal. What we really want to do is be sure we have the resource s in our public schools to continue to address these needs. Right now we have a fairly small universe of public and religious schools in Arizona. Most of them are attend by people who are affiliated with a faith or have some other association with that private school. They are not seats that are empty in these schools. There are people on waiting lists for all of the right reasons. Their churches and communities are paying for them to go to these schools.

>> Michael Grant:
How do we assure that 90\% of this money goes to low income students? One of the criticisms of the program to date is there is not a lot of data being collected on, you know, who is actually making the contributions and where they are going.

>> Clint Bolick:
Well, and the current program is not limited to low income kids and the alliance for school choice very strongly believes that these funds should be directed to kids who do not have enough money to leave the public school system, if it's not serving them well. So this program will be audited. All of the nonprofit organizations that would provide scholarships are subject to financial audit, and they exist to serve precisely this population.

>> Michael Grant:
How do you answer the -- a lot of these funds go to faith-based schools?

>> Clint Bolick:
They go to whatever school is chosen by the parent, and a lot of parents want to send their kids to faith-based schools because of religious affiliation, others because they express the values. Half of the kids who are in urban Catholic schools, for example, are not Catholic, but they are there because they provide a good basic education, a safe environment, and the parents may not agree with the particular religious tenets, but they do agree with the values, and if I were a poor parent, even though I'm not Catholic, and my child was in a poor performing public school, I'd send her to a Catholic school in a minute.

>> Michael Grant:
John, if I want to give $100 to my church, it's a tax deduction. What's the difference?

>> John Wright:
The tax deduction and tax credit are different things.

>> Michael Grant:
Only proportionally.

>> John Wright:
Many of us give money to churches and church schools and to private schools to help them continue to do their work and to meet their mission. That's appropriate. That's good tax policy. That's what communities do. We don't take taxpayer dollars and fund them or fund tuition. Mr. Bolick, Clint is talking about alternatives and choices. The choices are there and people are making that choice. They don't need tax dollars to pay the tuition to make that choice.

>> Clint Bolick:
Of course they do. These people are too poor to exercise the choices, and the money, one way or the other, is going to education. That is the point. We should be less worried about where education takes place and much more worried about whether education is taking place.

>> John Wright:
We also have very many low income families who go to these church schools or religious affiliated schools because those schools put together scholarship funds to help them go there, as they should be with the money they raise through the diocese or through the community. That's the appropriate way to fund this.

>> Michael Grant:
Why shouldn't government offer that option, though, to individuals exercising an individual choice?

>> John Wright:
There are two issues. There is still an important issue of separation of church and state. The tuition tax credits are found to be legitimate or legal on a technicality because the money goes to these organizations before it comes to the state. But still, you have the state expenditure that's actually supporting a religious enterprise. So we believe that's fundamentally wrong. People make choices and the communities help them and support them to make those choices. The churches can help them and that's working. We need to continue to let that work the way it is.

>> Michael Grant:
Almost out of time. Why isn't it a main line from the state treasury to the --

>> Clint Bolick:
Been there, done that. Argued this issue before the Arizona Supreme Court. Argued it before the United States Supreme Court, and the Court has held that because individual parents are making the decisions about where their money is used just like the GI bill or Pell grants, it's constitutional.

>> Michael Grant:
All right, Clint Bolick, thank you for joining us. John Wright R Wright, our thanks to you.

>> Michael Grant:
A resolution was passed 40-19 by the House recently asking congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution to ban same-sex marriage. I'll talk to people from both sides of the issue, but first, Mike Sauceda tells us what one same-sex couple thinks of the resolution.

>> Denise Murphy:
After I met TROLLA, it was a feeling of being at home, you know, like I've known this person forever.

>>Reporter
Mike Sauceda: Three months after meeting outside of a club, Charla Egan and Denise Murphy were married in a commitment ceremony.

>> Sharla Egan:

It was on a boat dock at sunset. And a comet was going by.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
Next month they celebrate their 8th anniversary. They have two children who were given birth by Sharla. Although Sharla and Denise consider themselves to be married, the law in Arizona does not allow same-sex couples to web. That means the legal rights granted by marriage, such as inheritance rights are not available to denies and Sharla. However, they can obtain them one by one through the legal process.

>> Sharla Egan:
We did want to have those legal papers, it's going to cost us between $5,000 and $10,000 to do that, to go in and get that all worked out. So as far as the doctor and things like that, we haven't had that problem come up so far, but certainly, if I were to die, there's, you know, there's family out there that our son doesn't even know that could come in and say we want him, and he's never met them, and she would literally have to fight for her own son.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
The state house has approved a bill asking Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would keep couples like Denies and Sharla from ever being married legally.

>> Denise Murphy:
How it makes me feel is I thought this was over last year. It had been tied up in the senate and I didn't feel like it was going to move forward, but what a shame. I feel like history is repeating itself, only with a different minority group. I feel like to amend the constitution to prohibit human rights is wrong.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
One argument for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is to protect the sanctity of the institution.

>> Sharla Egan:
I'd like to hear specifically how we're going to tarnish the sanctity of marriage. I don't understand that. I know factually it does hurt us. We don't have 1400 rights. I go into the grocery store all the time, and I pay state tax. I pay federal tax. We're, you know, productive members of society. We raise our children just like everybody else. We're concerned about what they watch and who their friends are and, you know, we have -- we're the same. We have all of these concerns, and we give so much as well, and so I don't understand -- I -- you know, at the same time I drive down the street and I see billboards that say, you know, come to the divorce store. It's like the chicken little thing. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. No knows why. They continue see it, but they've jumped on board with "the sky is falling." I don't see it falling.

>> Michael Grant:
Here now to discuss the bills is Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema, who opposes the resolution urging a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and Peter Gentala of the Center for Arizona Policy, a group which favors the measure. Thanks to both of you for coming. Kyrsten traditionally, marriage is between a man and a woman. Why is this a bad idea?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Well, I don't thing that the question here is whether or not marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman. There is not much of an argument about that. What this memorial does is actually just send a postcard to congress that says we like the federal marriage amendment in Arizona. I would argue that it's unnecessary. It's needless. Congress doesn't have the vote to pass the federal marriage amendment this year. Federal law and state law already define marriage as between one man and one women. It's a needless measure that's designed not to actually enshrine marriages between one man, one woman, but to send a message to a certain percentage of our society letting them know they are not acceptable and wanted.

>> Michael Grant:
As you know, under the full faith and credit provisions of the United States constitution, there is concern that basically a state will have to honor a union which its people don't believe should be honored. Isn't that a reason to pass the federal constitutional amendment?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
It would be a reason except for the Supreme court has defined the full faith and credit clause in terms of violations of public policy. The Court has already decided in two separate cases in the '80s and '90s saying that the full faith and credit clause does not apply when that violates that state's public policy. This isn't an issue in that sense, because. Public policy in Arizona is clearly defined as prohibiting marriage between members of the same sex. There is no issue about full faith and credit.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter, it's a state by state kind of issue. Why should we be encouraging congress to stick its nose in here?

>> Peter Gentala:
Well, I agree that there is no problem with the full faith and credit clause yet, but the real issue here is that there's litigation in most of the states in the United States right now on the issue of same-sex marriage, and this litigation is calculated to create circuit splits, which will eventually end up at the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court decides this issue, there's a very strong chance that they will mandate gay marriage across the United States for every state, including Arizona. So the fact that we had the Stanhard decision decided last year and then the Supreme Court of Arizona did not hear it, that's going to be irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that there are other cases happening in other states, and when those cases reach the Supreme Court or, say, a federal judge, anywhere in the 9th Circuit, we will have a chance to have our marriage laws here in Arizona overturned by an outside body. The public policy in Arizona is very clear, as Kyrsten talks about. The public policy is we defined marriage between a man and a woman. All of our laws presume that marriage is between a man and a woman and we're promoting marriage affirmatively as a state.

>> Michael Grant:
Now, he seems to think that there's a real peril that you do have a full faith and credit issue. Why not clean it up and invite congress to pass the constitutional amendment and take it all down off the table?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
I think that's an important question. One of the major reasons against a federal marriage amendment act that would change the constitution of our entire country is the history of our country. In our entire history, Congress has only one time, and the United States actually has only one time approved an amendment to the constitution that actually retracted rights. That was prohibition, and we saw how long that lasted.

>> Michael Grant:
That one didn't work well.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
That didn't work so well. What we've seen since then, amendments have consistently expanded rights and rectified past instances of discrimination, when women were allowed to vote, when slavery ended. These are all enumerations where we were granting rights that had been withheld from people in the past. So passing a constitutional amendment that restricts individual freedoms and rights, I believe, is in contravention of what our founding fathers believed in and what they intended when they started the Bill of Rights.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter, I normally associate your center with state's rights and the ability of individual states to go their own way. There is a lot of issues, including but not limited to, marriage that have traditionally been thought of as states' rights issues. Is the center being inconsistent on this one?

>> Peter Gentala:
No, the only way to protect the public policy in Arizona is to ask for a federal marriage amendment. Right now, there are cases happening in California, in Oregon, in Washington, in New York and New Jersey, and any of these courts -- and some of them already have -- could decide that the marriage laws of that state are unconstitutional and overturn them. When that happens, that case is going to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and eventually, the Supreme Court will have to speak to the issue. So no action by the State of Arizona would really mean that eventually we're going to have to abide by a decision of an outside federal court. Given the trend, I don't think there is any question that they would approve gay marriage.

>> Michael Grant:
Kyrsten, I read into your first answer that you were saying this isn't a political issue, it's designed to embarrass people. Am I reading that correct?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
It's not an issue designed to embarrass people, but I would say this is absolutely a political issue, and it's definitely so at the legislature. One of the things that I witnessed in my short tenure there is this has been the most divisive issue that has come to the floor of the House. It was divisive in committee. It was divisive in our committee of the whole, and it was divisive when we voted on it then. In truth, this postcard does virtually nothing. We're spending taxpayer resources and dollars to send a postcard to congress which will have no legal effect. And moreover, if the idea is really to have a federal marriage amendment, then why is a State body involved in that decision-making?

>> Michael Grant:
You could call a constitutional convention, but that would be a really expensive postcard.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Yes, it would.

>> Michael Grant:
Is it being offered to drive political wedges to point out to people who should and shouldn't be voted on, let's say the GOP primary in 2006?

>> Peter Gentala:
Every issue is a political issue. This is one of the fundamental questions of our time. This is one of the things that representative cinema and I agree on. This is the generation of Americans that is going to decide the question of do we keep the existing marriage laws, marriage between one man and one woman or will we have those overturned. So far, the questions about why should we change, why should we change the fundamental format of marriage, have not been answered. The public policy in Arizona is constantly approving of something. For instance, we have laws that recommended home ownership. In Arizona, we encourage people to get married.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter Gentala, thank you for joining us. Representative Sinema appreciate your input.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Thank you so much.

>> Michael Grant:
For more than two decades now, the Black Board of Directors has been helping African Americans get on various boards. I'll talk to two members of the Black Board of Directors, but first, more on the group.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
In 1984, the Black Board of Directors project was founded in Phoenix by Marvin Perry, president of a marketing, advertising and public relations firm. The black board of directors was starting to fill the void of Blacks on corporate, charitable, and public policy making boards and commissions in the local state and federal levels as well as in other leadership positions. Since the project started has helped obtain 1200 appointments to a wide range of boards and commissions for African Americans. Exam members of organizations where the black board of directors has placed members are, the Valley of the Sun United Way. Arizona opera. The Arizona board of education, the state bar of Arizona, and the Arizona humanities council. Every year the board recruits a select number of individuals who have reached middle to senior levels in their careers. A few are selected and promoted by a variety of methods. Those chosen gets their picture published and it is circulated. Board members also receive media attention, are invited organization to give speeches and write articles and are nominated and selected for various awards.

>> Michael Grant:
Here now to tell us more about the Black Board of Directors is Dr. Mernoy Harrison, vice president and provost of the ASU downtown campus. Also joining us is Naomi Bryant, a civic leader and former international banker with Chase Bank. hello. Dr. Harrison, it looks like this is a very affirmative outreach kind of organization. I mean, to actually pull in people who are capable of board membership, that kind of thing.

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Yeah, it's sort of a match-making operation, matching people with skills who are African American, with community organizations and other governmental organizations that are in need of knowledgeable skilled board members.

>> Michael Grant:
How does that process work?

>> Naomi Bryant:
Well, actually, my process was that the president, Marvin Perry, I was new to the valley, and I met him, and through meeting him -- he has quite a network, and he actually will ask you to participate in some functions, and then there is an entire process that he goes through to sort of find people who will make a good fit.

>> Michael Grant:
You have served on a number of boards, have you not?

>> Naomi Bryant:
Yes, I have.

>> Michael Grant:
Give us some indication of what they are.

>> Naomi Bryant:
Well, one of the first things I did was the Valley of the Sun United Way, the allocation panels. That is a great way to get to know the valley. I came back to the valley in 2000, and that was a good way that Marvin reintroduced me to the valley, and I got to know a number of organizations. And then I served on the foundation board for the Maricopa community colleges. I'm presently vice chairman of the parks and REC commission in Fountain Hills. I'm on the child crisis center board, and I'm also on the cultural council for Fountain Hills.

>> Michael Grant:
Primary thrust here, governmental boards, nonprofit boards, those kinds of organizations and institutions?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Well, the black board of directors probably places more people on those boards because there are simply more of them, but also we look to corporate boards as a place and recommend people for corporate boards. I have had a couple of folk who have been nominated to serve on corporate boards, but certainly by far the largest numbers on public and non not for profit boards.

>> Michael Grant:
Tell me why the organization thinks diversity on boards of directors, particularly African American membership, is so important?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Well, all boards are looking for diverse opinions and ideas and experiences to help them make better decisions, and African Americans, just like Americans from all walks of life, bring to the table their experiences, their knowledge, and their skills to help them better understand some of the issues that they may be facing. So it's an opportunity to match, like I say, it's a match-making operation. An opportunity to match boards that are in need of people with skills, background, with people that have those.

>> Michael Grant:
Enlarge horizons and give different perspectives?

>> Naomi Bryant:
I have things that are important to me, education, child abuse prevention, natural things and trying to find activities for children. So most of my interests, I've been able to actually satisfy those interests through the kinds of boards. It's a passion thing. I have been on boards that mean a lot to me.

>> Michael Grant:
Uh-huh.

>> Naomi Bryant:
Such as the ACE program with the Maricopa community colleges. It's trying to reach out and grab students to prevent the dropout problem. These things that are very dear to me, I've been able to pursue my interest through these boards. It's not just sitting on a board, it's something you care about.

>> Michael Grant:
Dr. Harrison, over the years, the organ 20 years the organization has been around, has it become easier to get this word out to outreach and to have the boards accept members?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Absolutely. I think now the black board of directors project has become known as a place to go to get quality board members, who are African American. And so frequently individuals will call and say, I'm looking for someone who to serve on my board, and I need someone that's African American, because a number of issues that come up have particular concern for communities that may not have had representation before. I just got a call not too long ago from the southwest autism research foundation, who were interested in finding out if there were African Americans who might serve on that board.

>> Michael Grant:
Dr. Harrison, thank you for being here. Naomi Bryant, good to see you.

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Pleasure.

>> Michael Grant:
You can visit our web site at www.azpbs.org. Once you get to our home page, click on the word "Horizon" to see transcripts or information about upcoming shows.

>>Reporter Larry Lemmons:
A new KAET-ASU poll shows former Governor Fife Symington has an uphill climb if he wants to return to the office. Some state legislatures are trying to steer a couple of bills that would increase the speed limits on state freeways. Join us Friday at 7:00 for the Journalists' Roundtable on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
We'll speed through those and other subjects tomorrow on the Journalists' Roundtable. Thanks very much for being here on a Thursday. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.


same-sex marriage


  • A bill has been passed by the House, a "postcard" to Congress from the legislature calling for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Guests:
  • Clint Bolick - Alliance For School Choice
  • John Wright - Arizona Education Association
  • Krysten Sinema - Democratic Representative


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," a couple of bills that would allow corporations to make donations to school tuition organizations and receive a tax credit are making their way through the legislature.

>>> Michael Grant:
Another bill that has been passed by the House, a "postcard" to congress from the legislature calling for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

>>> Michael Grant:
And for more than 20 years, the Black Board of Directors has been helping African-Americans get on boards like the State Board of Education. We'll talk about those topics next, on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the friends of channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Two bills are currently making their way through the legislature that would make tax tuition credits available to corporations. The tax credits were created by the legislature in 1997 and allow individuals who make contributions to student tuition organizations to receive a dollar for dollar tax credit. School tuition organizations then give money to students attending private schools. Now, Senate Bill 1176 has been passed by the full Senate. House Bill 2378 has been passed by the House Appropriations Committee. Both bills would allow corporations to make donations to school tuition organizations of up to $10,000 and get that money back as a tax credit. Donations above $10,000 could be made and received as a credit, but that would require approval by the Department of Revenue, so the cap on total tax credits given does not exceed $10 million, which is the cap for the first year. 90\% of the contributions would have to go to students from low income families. Here now to discuss the bills are Clint Bolick of the Alliance For School Choice, which favors the bills, and John Wright of the Arizona Education Association, which is against the bills. Gentlemen, it's good to see you again. John, you are spending too much time on the show.

>> John Wright:
Glad to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
Argument number one against tax credits, Clint, they syphon money away from the public school system and do more harm than good. What do you say?

>> Clint Bolick:
Absolutely not. If Arizona schools were well educating students, there would be no demand for these, but unfortunately, about four-fifths of all black and Hispanic kids when they graduate are far behind in reading and mathematics. We need alternatives. This bill does not take money from public schools at all. On the contrary, it only applies to students who are transferring from public to private schools, and because the scholarships will not be for the same amount of money that public schools would be using, there should be a net tax savings.

>> Michael Grant:
On the other hand, those, those schools that they leave will not get the same amount of public support.

>> Clint Bolick:
Nor should they. It's rare to find any sort of place where if a customer leaves, there isn't any sort of financial consequence. What we've seen all around the country is that when there are choices in education, the public schools improve because there is a competitive incentive for them to improve. If the parents are not satisfied, they should be able to take their kids and money with them.

>> Michael Grant:
John, we're talking a universe of $10 million in a $7-$8 billion dollar state budget. Is this an argument to say it's draining coffers?

>> John Wright:
It is a state expenditure. The state decides to spend money for a purpose. When we're trying to balance a budget, when we're trying to make sure we can pay police officers to fund Child Protective Services, to make sure we don't have long waiting lists for child care, to take that money out of the system, to pay the tuition for students who would go to those schools anyway to subsidize the tuition with tax dollars is bad policy. It's bad for economics. It's bad education policy. Our schools are doing heroic work for the children who come through those doors, which we want to improve, but by offering this sort of drain on the funding, we are neat helping anybody.

>> Michael Grant:
Unfortunately, some of the students who most frequently get left behind by the public school system are the very students that this tax credit bill is aimed at, low income students.

>> John Wright:
We need to do a lot of work to close the achievement gap. We don't close it by funding a separate system that's unequal. What we really want to do is be sure we have the resource s in our public schools to continue to address these needs. Right now we have a fairly small universe of public and religious schools in Arizona. Most of them are attend by people who are affiliated with a faith or have some other association with that private school. They are not seats that are empty in these schools. There are people on waiting lists for all of the right reasons. Their churches and communities are paying for them to go to these schools.

>> Michael Grant:
How do we assure that 90\% of this money goes to low income students? One of the criticisms of the program to date is there is not a lot of data being collected on, you know, who is actually making the contributions and where they are going.

>> Clint Bolick:
Well, and the current program is not limited to low income kids and the alliance for school choice very strongly believes that these funds should be directed to kids who do not have enough money to leave the public school system, if it's not serving them well. So this program will be audited. All of the nonprofit organizations that would provide scholarships are subject to financial audit, and they exist to serve precisely this population.

>> Michael Grant:
How do you answer the -- a lot of these funds go to faith-based schools?

>> Clint Bolick:
They go to whatever school is chosen by the parent, and a lot of parents want to send their kids to faith-based schools because of religious affiliation, others because they express the values. Half of the kids who are in urban Catholic schools, for example, are not Catholic, but they are there because they provide a good basic education, a safe environment, and the parents may not agree with the particular religious tenets, but they do agree with the values, and if I were a poor parent, even though I'm not Catholic, and my child was in a poor performing public school, I'd send her to a Catholic school in a minute.

>> Michael Grant:
John, if I want to give $100 to my church, it's a tax deduction. What's the difference?

>> John Wright:
The tax deduction and tax credit are different things.

>> Michael Grant:
Only proportionally.

>> John Wright:
Many of us give money to churches and church schools and to private schools to help them continue to do their work and to meet their mission. That's appropriate. That's good tax policy. That's what communities do. We don't take taxpayer dollars and fund them or fund tuition. Mr. Bolick, Clint is talking about alternatives and choices. The choices are there and people are making that choice. They don't need tax dollars to pay the tuition to make that choice.

>> Clint Bolick:
Of course they do. These people are too poor to exercise the choices, and the money, one way or the other, is going to education. That is the point. We should be less worried about where education takes place and much more worried about whether education is taking place.

>> John Wright:
We also have very many low income families who go to these church schools or religious affiliated schools because those schools put together scholarship funds to help them go there, as they should be with the money they raise through the diocese or through the community. That's the appropriate way to fund this.

>> Michael Grant:
Why shouldn't government offer that option, though, to individuals exercising an individual choice?

>> John Wright:
There are two issues. There is still an important issue of separation of church and state. The tuition tax credits are found to be legitimate or legal on a technicality because the money goes to these organizations before it comes to the state. But still, you have the state expenditure that's actually supporting a religious enterprise. So we believe that's fundamentally wrong. People make choices and the communities help them and support them to make those choices. The churches can help them and that's working. We need to continue to let that work the way it is.

>> Michael Grant:
Almost out of time. Why isn't it a main line from the state treasury to the --

>> Clint Bolick:
Been there, done that. Argued this issue before the Arizona Supreme Court. Argued it before the United States Supreme Court, and the Court has held that because individual parents are making the decisions about where their money is used just like the GI bill or Pell grants, it's constitutional.

>> Michael Grant:
All right, Clint Bolick, thank you for joining us. John Wright R Wright, our thanks to you.

>> Michael Grant:
A resolution was passed 40-19 by the House recently asking congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution to ban same-sex marriage. I'll talk to people from both sides of the issue, but first, Mike Sauceda tells us what one same-sex couple thinks of the resolution.

>> Denise Murphy:
After I met TROLLA, it was a feeling of being at home, you know, like I've known this person forever.

>>Reporter
Mike Sauceda: Three months after meeting outside of a club, Charla Egan and Denise Murphy were married in a commitment ceremony.

>> Sharla Egan:

It was on a boat dock at sunset. And a comet was going by.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
Next month they celebrate their 8th anniversary. They have two children who were given birth by Sharla. Although Sharla and Denise consider themselves to be married, the law in Arizona does not allow same-sex couples to web. That means the legal rights granted by marriage, such as inheritance rights are not available to denies and Sharla. However, they can obtain them one by one through the legal process.

>> Sharla Egan:
We did want to have those legal papers, it's going to cost us between $5,000 and $10,000 to do that, to go in and get that all worked out. So as far as the doctor and things like that, we haven't had that problem come up so far, but certainly, if I were to die, there's, you know, there's family out there that our son doesn't even know that could come in and say we want him, and he's never met them, and she would literally have to fight for her own son.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
The state house has approved a bill asking Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would keep couples like Denies and Sharla from ever being married legally.

>> Denise Murphy:
How it makes me feel is I thought this was over last year. It had been tied up in the senate and I didn't feel like it was going to move forward, but what a shame. I feel like history is repeating itself, only with a different minority group. I feel like to amend the constitution to prohibit human rights is wrong.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
One argument for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is to protect the sanctity of the institution.

>> Sharla Egan:
I'd like to hear specifically how we're going to tarnish the sanctity of marriage. I don't understand that. I know factually it does hurt us. We don't have 1400 rights. I go into the grocery store all the time, and I pay state tax. I pay federal tax. We're, you know, productive members of society. We raise our children just like everybody else. We're concerned about what they watch and who their friends are and, you know, we have -- we're the same. We have all of these concerns, and we give so much as well, and so I don't understand -- I -- you know, at the same time I drive down the street and I see billboards that say, you know, come to the divorce store. It's like the chicken little thing. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. No knows why. They continue see it, but they've jumped on board with "the sky is falling." I don't see it falling.

>> Michael Grant:
Here now to discuss the bills is Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema, who opposes the resolution urging a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and Peter Gentala of the Center for Arizona Policy, a group which favors the measure. Thanks to both of you for coming. Kyrsten traditionally, marriage is between a man and a woman. Why is this a bad idea?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Well, I don't thing that the question here is whether or not marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman. There is not much of an argument about that. What this memorial does is actually just send a postcard to congress that says we like the federal marriage amendment in Arizona. I would argue that it's unnecessary. It's needless. Congress doesn't have the vote to pass the federal marriage amendment this year. Federal law and state law already define marriage as between one man and one women. It's a needless measure that's designed not to actually enshrine marriages between one man, one woman, but to send a message to a certain percentage of our society letting them know they are not acceptable and wanted.

>> Michael Grant:
As you know, under the full faith and credit provisions of the United States constitution, there is concern that basically a state will have to honor a union which its people don't believe should be honored. Isn't that a reason to pass the federal constitutional amendment?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
It would be a reason except for the Supreme court has defined the full faith and credit clause in terms of violations of public policy. The Court has already decided in two separate cases in the '80s and '90s saying that the full faith and credit clause does not apply when that violates that state's public policy. This isn't an issue in that sense, because. Public policy in Arizona is clearly defined as prohibiting marriage between members of the same sex. There is no issue about full faith and credit.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter, it's a state by state kind of issue. Why should we be encouraging congress to stick its nose in here?

>> Peter Gentala:
Well, I agree that there is no problem with the full faith and credit clause yet, but the real issue here is that there's litigation in most of the states in the United States right now on the issue of same-sex marriage, and this litigation is calculated to create circuit splits, which will eventually end up at the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court decides this issue, there's a very strong chance that they will mandate gay marriage across the United States for every state, including Arizona. So the fact that we had the Stanhard decision decided last year and then the Supreme Court of Arizona did not hear it, that's going to be irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that there are other cases happening in other states, and when those cases reach the Supreme Court or, say, a federal judge, anywhere in the 9th Circuit, we will have a chance to have our marriage laws here in Arizona overturned by an outside body. The public policy in Arizona is very clear, as Kyrsten talks about. The public policy is we defined marriage between a man and a woman. All of our laws presume that marriage is between a man and a woman and we're promoting marriage affirmatively as a state.

>> Michael Grant:
Now, he seems to think that there's a real peril that you do have a full faith and credit issue. Why not clean it up and invite congress to pass the constitutional amendment and take it all down off the table?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
I think that's an important question. One of the major reasons against a federal marriage amendment act that would change the constitution of our entire country is the history of our country. In our entire history, Congress has only one time, and the United States actually has only one time approved an amendment to the constitution that actually retracted rights. That was prohibition, and we saw how long that lasted.

>> Michael Grant:
That one didn't work well.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
That didn't work so well. What we've seen since then, amendments have consistently expanded rights and rectified past instances of discrimination, when women were allowed to vote, when slavery ended. These are all enumerations where we were granting rights that had been withheld from people in the past. So passing a constitutional amendment that restricts individual freedoms and rights, I believe, is in contravention of what our founding fathers believed in and what they intended when they started the Bill of Rights.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter, I normally associate your center with state's rights and the ability of individual states to go their own way. There is a lot of issues, including but not limited to, marriage that have traditionally been thought of as states' rights issues. Is the center being inconsistent on this one?

>> Peter Gentala:
No, the only way to protect the public policy in Arizona is to ask for a federal marriage amendment. Right now, there are cases happening in California, in Oregon, in Washington, in New York and New Jersey, and any of these courts -- and some of them already have -- could decide that the marriage laws of that state are unconstitutional and overturn them. When that happens, that case is going to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and eventually, the Supreme Court will have to speak to the issue. So no action by the State of Arizona would really mean that eventually we're going to have to abide by a decision of an outside federal court. Given the trend, I don't think there is any question that they would approve gay marriage.

>> Michael Grant:
Kyrsten, I read into your first answer that you were saying this isn't a political issue, it's designed to embarrass people. Am I reading that correct?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
It's not an issue designed to embarrass people, but I would say this is absolutely a political issue, and it's definitely so at the legislature. One of the things that I witnessed in my short tenure there is this has been the most divisive issue that has come to the floor of the House. It was divisive in committee. It was divisive in our committee of the whole, and it was divisive when we voted on it then. In truth, this postcard does virtually nothing. We're spending taxpayer resources and dollars to send a postcard to congress which will have no legal effect. And moreover, if the idea is really to have a federal marriage amendment, then why is a State body involved in that decision-making?

>> Michael Grant:
You could call a constitutional convention, but that would be a really expensive postcard.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Yes, it would.

>> Michael Grant:
Is it being offered to drive political wedges to point out to people who should and shouldn't be voted on, let's say the GOP primary in 2006?

>> Peter Gentala:
Every issue is a political issue. This is one of the fundamental questions of our time. This is one of the things that representative cinema and I agree on. This is the generation of Americans that is going to decide the question of do we keep the existing marriage laws, marriage between one man and one woman or will we have those overturned. So far, the questions about why should we change, why should we change the fundamental format of marriage, have not been answered. The public policy in Arizona is constantly approving of something. For instance, we have laws that recommended home ownership. In Arizona, we encourage people to get married.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter Gentala, thank you for joining us. Representative Sinema appreciate your input.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Thank you so much.

>> Michael Grant:
For more than two decades now, the Black Board of Directors has been helping African Americans get on various boards. I'll talk to two members of the Black Board of Directors, but first, more on the group.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
In 1984, the Black Board of Directors project was founded in Phoenix by Marvin Perry, president of a marketing, advertising and public relations firm. The black board of directors was starting to fill the void of Blacks on corporate, charitable, and public policy making boards and commissions in the local state and federal levels as well as in other leadership positions. Since the project started has helped obtain 1200 appointments to a wide range of boards and commissions for African Americans. Exam members of organizations where the black board of directors has placed members are, the Valley of the Sun United Way. Arizona opera. The Arizona board of education, the state bar of Arizona, and the Arizona humanities council. Every year the board recruits a select number of individuals who have reached middle to senior levels in their careers. A few are selected and promoted by a variety of methods. Those chosen gets their picture published and it is circulated. Board members also receive media attention, are invited organization to give speeches and write articles and are nominated and selected for various awards.

>> Michael Grant:
Here now to tell us more about the Black Board of Directors is Dr. Mernoy Harrison, vice president and provost of the ASU downtown campus. Also joining us is Naomi Bryant, a civic leader and former international banker with Chase Bank. hello. Dr. Harrison, it looks like this is a very affirmative outreach kind of organization. I mean, to actually pull in people who are capable of board membership, that kind of thing.

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Yeah, it's sort of a match-making operation, matching people with skills who are African American, with community organizations and other governmental organizations that are in need of knowledgeable skilled board members.

>> Michael Grant:
How does that process work?

>> Naomi Bryant:
Well, actually, my process was that the president, Marvin Perry, I was new to the valley, and I met him, and through meeting him -- he has quite a network, and he actually will ask you to participate in some functions, and then there is an entire process that he goes through to sort of find people who will make a good fit.

>> Michael Grant:
You have served on a number of boards, have you not?

>> Naomi Bryant:
Yes, I have.

>> Michael Grant:
Give us some indication of what they are.

>> Naomi Bryant:
Well, one of the first things I did was the Valley of the Sun United Way, the allocation panels. That is a great way to get to know the valley. I came back to the valley in 2000, and that was a good way that Marvin reintroduced me to the valley, and I got to know a number of organizations. And then I served on the foundation board for the Maricopa community colleges. I'm presently vice chairman of the parks and REC commission in Fountain Hills. I'm on the child crisis center board, and I'm also on the cultural council for Fountain Hills.

>> Michael Grant:
Primary thrust here, governmental boards, nonprofit boards, those kinds of organizations and institutions?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Well, the black board of directors probably places more people on those boards because there are simply more of them, but also we look to corporate boards as a place and recommend people for corporate boards. I have had a couple of folk who have been nominated to serve on corporate boards, but certainly by far the largest numbers on public and non not for profit boards.

>> Michael Grant:
Tell me why the organization thinks diversity on boards of directors, particularly African American membership, is so important?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Well, all boards are looking for diverse opinions and ideas and experiences to help them make better decisions, and African Americans, just like Americans from all walks of life, bring to the table their experiences, their knowledge, and their skills to help them better understand some of the issues that they may be facing. So it's an opportunity to match, like I say, it's a match-making operation. An opportunity to match boards that are in need of people with skills, background, with people that have those.

>> Michael Grant:
Enlarge horizons and give different perspectives?

>> Naomi Bryant:
I have things that are important to me, education, child abuse prevention, natural things and trying to find activities for children. So most of my interests, I've been able to actually satisfy those interests through the kinds of boards. It's a passion thing. I have been on boards that mean a lot to me.

>> Michael Grant:
Uh-huh.

>> Naomi Bryant:
Such as the ACE program with the Maricopa community colleges. It's trying to reach out and grab students to prevent the dropout problem. These things that are very dear to me, I've been able to pursue my interest through these boards. It's not just sitting on a board, it's something you care about.

>> Michael Grant:
Dr. Harrison, over the years, the organ 20 years the organization has been around, has it become easier to get this word out to outreach and to have the boards accept members?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Absolutely. I think now the black board of directors project has become known as a place to go to get quality board members, who are African American. And so frequently individuals will call and say, I'm looking for someone who to serve on my board, and I need someone that's African American, because a number of issues that come up have particular concern for communities that may not have had representation before. I just got a call not too long ago from the southwest autism research foundation, who were interested in finding out if there were African Americans who might serve on that board.

>> Michael Grant:
Dr. Harrison, thank you for being here. Naomi Bryant, good to see you.

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Pleasure.

>> Michael Grant:
You can visit our web site at www.azpbs.org. Once you get to our home page, click on the word "Horizon" to see transcripts or information about upcoming shows.

>>Reporter Larry Lemmons:
A new KAET-ASU poll shows former Governor Fife Symington has an uphill climb if he wants to return to the office. Some state legislatures are trying to steer a couple of bills that would increase the speed limits on state freeways. Join us Friday at 7:00 for the Journalists' Roundtable on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
We'll speed through those and other subjects tomorrow on the Journalists' Roundtable. Thanks very much for being here on a Thursday. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.


Tuition tax credits


  • A couple of bills that would allow corporations to make donations to school tuition organizations and receive a tax credit are making their way through the legislature.
Guests:
  • Clint Bolick - Alliance For School Choice
  • John Wright - Arizona Education Association
  • Krysten Sinema - Democratic Representative


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," a couple of bills that would allow corporations to make donations to school tuition organizations and receive a tax credit are making their way through the legislature.

>>> Michael Grant:
Another bill that has been passed by the House, a "postcard" to congress from the legislature calling for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

>>> Michael Grant:
And for more than 20 years, the Black Board of Directors has been helping African-Americans get on boards like the State Board of Education. We'll talk about those topics next, on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the friends of channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Two bills are currently making their way through the legislature that would make tax tuition credits available to corporations. The tax credits were created by the legislature in 1997 and allow individuals who make contributions to student tuition organizations to receive a dollar for dollar tax credit. School tuition organizations then give money to students attending private schools. Now, Senate Bill 1176 has been passed by the full Senate. House Bill 2378 has been passed by the House Appropriations Committee. Both bills would allow corporations to make donations to school tuition organizations of up to $10,000 and get that money back as a tax credit. Donations above $10,000 could be made and received as a credit, but that would require approval by the Department of Revenue, so the cap on total tax credits given does not exceed $10 million, which is the cap for the first year. 90\% of the contributions would have to go to students from low income families. Here now to discuss the bills are Clint Bolick of the Alliance For School Choice, which favors the bills, and John Wright of the Arizona Education Association, which is against the bills. Gentlemen, it's good to see you again. John, you are spending too much time on the show.

>> John Wright:
Glad to be here.

>> Michael Grant:
Argument number one against tax credits, Clint, they syphon money away from the public school system and do more harm than good. What do you say?

>> Clint Bolick:
Absolutely not. If Arizona schools were well educating students, there would be no demand for these, but unfortunately, about four-fifths of all black and Hispanic kids when they graduate are far behind in reading and mathematics. We need alternatives. This bill does not take money from public schools at all. On the contrary, it only applies to students who are transferring from public to private schools, and because the scholarships will not be for the same amount of money that public schools would be using, there should be a net tax savings.

>> Michael Grant:
On the other hand, those, those schools that they leave will not get the same amount of public support.

>> Clint Bolick:
Nor should they. It's rare to find any sort of place where if a customer leaves, there isn't any sort of financial consequence. What we've seen all around the country is that when there are choices in education, the public schools improve because there is a competitive incentive for them to improve. If the parents are not satisfied, they should be able to take their kids and money with them.

>> Michael Grant:
John, we're talking a universe of $10 million in a $7-$8 billion dollar state budget. Is this an argument to say it's draining coffers?

>> John Wright:
It is a state expenditure. The state decides to spend money for a purpose. When we're trying to balance a budget, when we're trying to make sure we can pay police officers to fund Child Protective Services, to make sure we don't have long waiting lists for child care, to take that money out of the system, to pay the tuition for students who would go to those schools anyway to subsidize the tuition with tax dollars is bad policy. It's bad for economics. It's bad education policy. Our schools are doing heroic work for the children who come through those doors, which we want to improve, but by offering this sort of drain on the funding, we are neat helping anybody.

>> Michael Grant:
Unfortunately, some of the students who most frequently get left behind by the public school system are the very students that this tax credit bill is aimed at, low income students.

>> John Wright:
We need to do a lot of work to close the achievement gap. We don't close it by funding a separate system that's unequal. What we really want to do is be sure we have the resource s in our public schools to continue to address these needs. Right now we have a fairly small universe of public and religious schools in Arizona. Most of them are attend by people who are affiliated with a faith or have some other association with that private school. They are not seats that are empty in these schools. There are people on waiting lists for all of the right reasons. Their churches and communities are paying for them to go to these schools.

>> Michael Grant:
How do we assure that 90\% of this money goes to low income students? One of the criticisms of the program to date is there is not a lot of data being collected on, you know, who is actually making the contributions and where they are going.

>> Clint Bolick:
Well, and the current program is not limited to low income kids and the alliance for school choice very strongly believes that these funds should be directed to kids who do not have enough money to leave the public school system, if it's not serving them well. So this program will be audited. All of the nonprofit organizations that would provide scholarships are subject to financial audit, and they exist to serve precisely this population.

>> Michael Grant:
How do you answer the -- a lot of these funds go to faith-based schools?

>> Clint Bolick:
They go to whatever school is chosen by the parent, and a lot of parents want to send their kids to faith-based schools because of religious affiliation, others because they express the values. Half of the kids who are in urban Catholic schools, for example, are not Catholic, but they are there because they provide a good basic education, a safe environment, and the parents may not agree with the particular religious tenets, but they do agree with the values, and if I were a poor parent, even though I'm not Catholic, and my child was in a poor performing public school, I'd send her to a Catholic school in a minute.

>> Michael Grant:
John, if I want to give $100 to my church, it's a tax deduction. What's the difference?

>> John Wright:
The tax deduction and tax credit are different things.

>> Michael Grant:
Only proportionally.

>> John Wright:
Many of us give money to churches and church schools and to private schools to help them continue to do their work and to meet their mission. That's appropriate. That's good tax policy. That's what communities do. We don't take taxpayer dollars and fund them or fund tuition. Mr. Bolick, Clint is talking about alternatives and choices. The choices are there and people are making that choice. They don't need tax dollars to pay the tuition to make that choice.

>> Clint Bolick:
Of course they do. These people are too poor to exercise the choices, and the money, one way or the other, is going to education. That is the point. We should be less worried about where education takes place and much more worried about whether education is taking place.

>> John Wright:
We also have very many low income families who go to these church schools or religious affiliated schools because those schools put together scholarship funds to help them go there, as they should be with the money they raise through the diocese or through the community. That's the appropriate way to fund this.

>> Michael Grant:
Why shouldn't government offer that option, though, to individuals exercising an individual choice?

>> John Wright:
There are two issues. There is still an important issue of separation of church and state. The tuition tax credits are found to be legitimate or legal on a technicality because the money goes to these organizations before it comes to the state. But still, you have the state expenditure that's actually supporting a religious enterprise. So we believe that's fundamentally wrong. People make choices and the communities help them and support them to make those choices. The churches can help them and that's working. We need to continue to let that work the way it is.

>> Michael Grant:
Almost out of time. Why isn't it a main line from the state treasury to the --

>> Clint Bolick:
Been there, done that. Argued this issue before the Arizona Supreme Court. Argued it before the United States Supreme Court, and the Court has held that because individual parents are making the decisions about where their money is used just like the GI bill or Pell grants, it's constitutional.

>> Michael Grant:
All right, Clint Bolick, thank you for joining us. John Wright R Wright, our thanks to you.

>> Michael Grant:
A resolution was passed 40-19 by the House recently asking congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution to ban same-sex marriage. I'll talk to people from both sides of the issue, but first, Mike Sauceda tells us what one same-sex couple thinks of the resolution.

>> Denise Murphy:
After I met TROLLA, it was a feeling of being at home, you know, like I've known this person forever.

>>Reporter
Mike Sauceda: Three months after meeting outside of a club, Charla Egan and Denise Murphy were married in a commitment ceremony.

>> Sharla Egan:

It was on a boat dock at sunset. And a comet was going by.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
Next month they celebrate their 8th anniversary. They have two children who were given birth by Sharla. Although Sharla and Denise consider themselves to be married, the law in Arizona does not allow same-sex couples to web. That means the legal rights granted by marriage, such as inheritance rights are not available to denies and Sharla. However, they can obtain them one by one through the legal process.

>> Sharla Egan:
We did want to have those legal papers, it's going to cost us between $5,000 and $10,000 to do that, to go in and get that all worked out. So as far as the doctor and things like that, we haven't had that problem come up so far, but certainly, if I were to die, there's, you know, there's family out there that our son doesn't even know that could come in and say we want him, and he's never met them, and she would literally have to fight for her own son.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
The state house has approved a bill asking Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would keep couples like Denies and Sharla from ever being married legally.

>> Denise Murphy:
How it makes me feel is I thought this was over last year. It had been tied up in the senate and I didn't feel like it was going to move forward, but what a shame. I feel like history is repeating itself, only with a different minority group. I feel like to amend the constitution to prohibit human rights is wrong.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
One argument for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is to protect the sanctity of the institution.

>> Sharla Egan:
I'd like to hear specifically how we're going to tarnish the sanctity of marriage. I don't understand that. I know factually it does hurt us. We don't have 1400 rights. I go into the grocery store all the time, and I pay state tax. I pay federal tax. We're, you know, productive members of society. We raise our children just like everybody else. We're concerned about what they watch and who their friends are and, you know, we have -- we're the same. We have all of these concerns, and we give so much as well, and so I don't understand -- I -- you know, at the same time I drive down the street and I see billboards that say, you know, come to the divorce store. It's like the chicken little thing. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. No knows why. They continue see it, but they've jumped on board with "the sky is falling." I don't see it falling.

>> Michael Grant:
Here now to discuss the bills is Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema, who opposes the resolution urging a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and Peter Gentala of the Center for Arizona Policy, a group which favors the measure. Thanks to both of you for coming. Kyrsten traditionally, marriage is between a man and a woman. Why is this a bad idea?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Well, I don't thing that the question here is whether or not marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman. There is not much of an argument about that. What this memorial does is actually just send a postcard to congress that says we like the federal marriage amendment in Arizona. I would argue that it's unnecessary. It's needless. Congress doesn't have the vote to pass the federal marriage amendment this year. Federal law and state law already define marriage as between one man and one women. It's a needless measure that's designed not to actually enshrine marriages between one man, one woman, but to send a message to a certain percentage of our society letting them know they are not acceptable and wanted.

>> Michael Grant:
As you know, under the full faith and credit provisions of the United States constitution, there is concern that basically a state will have to honor a union which its people don't believe should be honored. Isn't that a reason to pass the federal constitutional amendment?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
It would be a reason except for the Supreme court has defined the full faith and credit clause in terms of violations of public policy. The Court has already decided in two separate cases in the '80s and '90s saying that the full faith and credit clause does not apply when that violates that state's public policy. This isn't an issue in that sense, because. Public policy in Arizona is clearly defined as prohibiting marriage between members of the same sex. There is no issue about full faith and credit.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter, it's a state by state kind of issue. Why should we be encouraging congress to stick its nose in here?

>> Peter Gentala:
Well, I agree that there is no problem with the full faith and credit clause yet, but the real issue here is that there's litigation in most of the states in the United States right now on the issue of same-sex marriage, and this litigation is calculated to create circuit splits, which will eventually end up at the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court decides this issue, there's a very strong chance that they will mandate gay marriage across the United States for every state, including Arizona. So the fact that we had the Stanhard decision decided last year and then the Supreme Court of Arizona did not hear it, that's going to be irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that there are other cases happening in other states, and when those cases reach the Supreme Court or, say, a federal judge, anywhere in the 9th Circuit, we will have a chance to have our marriage laws here in Arizona overturned by an outside body. The public policy in Arizona is very clear, as Kyrsten talks about. The public policy is we defined marriage between a man and a woman. All of our laws presume that marriage is between a man and a woman and we're promoting marriage affirmatively as a state.

>> Michael Grant:
Now, he seems to think that there's a real peril that you do have a full faith and credit issue. Why not clean it up and invite congress to pass the constitutional amendment and take it all down off the table?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
I think that's an important question. One of the major reasons against a federal marriage amendment act that would change the constitution of our entire country is the history of our country. In our entire history, Congress has only one time, and the United States actually has only one time approved an amendment to the constitution that actually retracted rights. That was prohibition, and we saw how long that lasted.

>> Michael Grant:
That one didn't work well.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
That didn't work so well. What we've seen since then, amendments have consistently expanded rights and rectified past instances of discrimination, when women were allowed to vote, when slavery ended. These are all enumerations where we were granting rights that had been withheld from people in the past. So passing a constitutional amendment that restricts individual freedoms and rights, I believe, is in contravention of what our founding fathers believed in and what they intended when they started the Bill of Rights.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter, I normally associate your center with state's rights and the ability of individual states to go their own way. There is a lot of issues, including but not limited to, marriage that have traditionally been thought of as states' rights issues. Is the center being inconsistent on this one?

>> Peter Gentala:
No, the only way to protect the public policy in Arizona is to ask for a federal marriage amendment. Right now, there are cases happening in California, in Oregon, in Washington, in New York and New Jersey, and any of these courts -- and some of them already have -- could decide that the marriage laws of that state are unconstitutional and overturn them. When that happens, that case is going to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and eventually, the Supreme Court will have to speak to the issue. So no action by the State of Arizona would really mean that eventually we're going to have to abide by a decision of an outside federal court. Given the trend, I don't think there is any question that they would approve gay marriage.

>> Michael Grant:
Kyrsten, I read into your first answer that you were saying this isn't a political issue, it's designed to embarrass people. Am I reading that correct?

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
It's not an issue designed to embarrass people, but I would say this is absolutely a political issue, and it's definitely so at the legislature. One of the things that I witnessed in my short tenure there is this has been the most divisive issue that has come to the floor of the House. It was divisive in committee. It was divisive in our committee of the whole, and it was divisive when we voted on it then. In truth, this postcard does virtually nothing. We're spending taxpayer resources and dollars to send a postcard to congress which will have no legal effect. And moreover, if the idea is really to have a federal marriage amendment, then why is a State body involved in that decision-making?

>> Michael Grant:
You could call a constitutional convention, but that would be a really expensive postcard.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Yes, it would.

>> Michael Grant:
Is it being offered to drive political wedges to point out to people who should and shouldn't be voted on, let's say the GOP primary in 2006?

>> Peter Gentala:
Every issue is a political issue. This is one of the fundamental questions of our time. This is one of the things that representative cinema and I agree on. This is the generation of Americans that is going to decide the question of do we keep the existing marriage laws, marriage between one man and one woman or will we have those overturned. So far, the questions about why should we change, why should we change the fundamental format of marriage, have not been answered. The public policy in Arizona is constantly approving of something. For instance, we have laws that recommended home ownership. In Arizona, we encourage people to get married.

>> Michael Grant:
Peter Gentala, thank you for joining us. Representative Sinema appreciate your input.

>> Kyrsten Sinema:
Thank you so much.

>> Michael Grant:
For more than two decades now, the Black Board of Directors has been helping African Americans get on various boards. I'll talk to two members of the Black Board of Directors, but first, more on the group.

>>Reporter Mike Sauceda:
In 1984, the Black Board of Directors project was founded in Phoenix by Marvin Perry, president of a marketing, advertising and public relations firm. The black board of directors was starting to fill the void of Blacks on corporate, charitable, and public policy making boards and commissions in the local state and federal levels as well as in other leadership positions. Since the project started has helped obtain 1200 appointments to a wide range of boards and commissions for African Americans. Exam members of organizations where the black board of directors has placed members are, the Valley of the Sun United Way. Arizona opera. The Arizona board of education, the state bar of Arizona, and the Arizona humanities council. Every year the board recruits a select number of individuals who have reached middle to senior levels in their careers. A few are selected and promoted by a variety of methods. Those chosen gets their picture published and it is circulated. Board members also receive media attention, are invited organization to give speeches and write articles and are nominated and selected for various awards.

>> Michael Grant:
Here now to tell us more about the Black Board of Directors is Dr. Mernoy Harrison, vice president and provost of the ASU downtown campus. Also joining us is Naomi Bryant, a civic leader and former international banker with Chase Bank. hello. Dr. Harrison, it looks like this is a very affirmative outreach kind of organization. I mean, to actually pull in people who are capable of board membership, that kind of thing.

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Yeah, it's sort of a match-making operation, matching people with skills who are African American, with community organizations and other governmental organizations that are in need of knowledgeable skilled board members.

>> Michael Grant:
How does that process work?

>> Naomi Bryant:
Well, actually, my process was that the president, Marvin Perry, I was new to the valley, and I met him, and through meeting him -- he has quite a network, and he actually will ask you to participate in some functions, and then there is an entire process that he goes through to sort of find people who will make a good fit.

>> Michael Grant:
You have served on a number of boards, have you not?

>> Naomi Bryant:
Yes, I have.

>> Michael Grant:
Give us some indication of what they are.

>> Naomi Bryant:
Well, one of the first things I did was the Valley of the Sun United Way, the allocation panels. That is a great way to get to know the valley. I came back to the valley in 2000, and that was a good way that Marvin reintroduced me to the valley, and I got to know a number of organizations. And then I served on the foundation board for the Maricopa community colleges. I'm presently vice chairman of the parks and REC commission in Fountain Hills. I'm on the child crisis center board, and I'm also on the cultural council for Fountain Hills.

>> Michael Grant:
Primary thrust here, governmental boards, nonprofit boards, those kinds of organizations and institutions?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Well, the black board of directors probably places more people on those boards because there are simply more of them, but also we look to corporate boards as a place and recommend people for corporate boards. I have had a couple of folk who have been nominated to serve on corporate boards, but certainly by far the largest numbers on public and non not for profit boards.

>> Michael Grant:
Tell me why the organization thinks diversity on boards of directors, particularly African American membership, is so important?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Well, all boards are looking for diverse opinions and ideas and experiences to help them make better decisions, and African Americans, just like Americans from all walks of life, bring to the table their experiences, their knowledge, and their skills to help them better understand some of the issues that they may be facing. So it's an opportunity to match, like I say, it's a match-making operation. An opportunity to match boards that are in need of people with skills, background, with people that have those.

>> Michael Grant:
Enlarge horizons and give different perspectives?

>> Naomi Bryant:
I have things that are important to me, education, child abuse prevention, natural things and trying to find activities for children. So most of my interests, I've been able to actually satisfy those interests through the kinds of boards. It's a passion thing. I have been on boards that mean a lot to me.

>> Michael Grant:
Uh-huh.

>> Naomi Bryant:
Such as the ACE program with the Maricopa community colleges. It's trying to reach out and grab students to prevent the dropout problem. These things that are very dear to me, I've been able to pursue my interest through these boards. It's not just sitting on a board, it's something you care about.

>> Michael Grant:
Dr. Harrison, over the years, the organ 20 years the organization has been around, has it become easier to get this word out to outreach and to have the boards accept members?

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Absolutely. I think now the black board of directors project has become known as a place to go to get quality board members, who are African American. And so frequently individuals will call and say, I'm looking for someone who to serve on my board, and I need someone that's African American, because a number of issues that come up have particular concern for communities that may not have had representation before. I just got a call not too long ago from the southwest autism research foundation, who were interested in finding out if there were African Americans who might serve on that board.

>> Michael Grant:
Dr. Harrison, thank you for being here. Naomi Bryant, good to see you.

>> Dr. Mernoy Harrison:
Pleasure.

>> Michael Grant:
You can visit our web site at www.azpbs.org. Once you get to our home page, click on the word "Horizon" to see transcripts or information about upcoming shows.

>>Reporter Larry Lemmons:
A new KAET-ASU poll shows former Governor Fife Symington has an uphill climb if he wants to return to the office. Some state legislatures are trying to steer a couple of bills that would increase the speed limits on state freeways. Join us Friday at 7:00 for the Journalists' Roundtable on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
We'll speed through those and other subjects tomorrow on the Journalists' Roundtable. Thanks very much for being here on a Thursday. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.



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