The Marriage Discrimination Act
Vote no on Amendment 2 in Florida and Amendment 8 in California.
Now because the two amendments are slightly different and in two different states; I will deal with the one here in Florida today. Tomorrow, I will speak about the one in California where I use to live.
Also I should let everyone know my own feelings on this issue. I was "married" my partner in Washington DC during the March on Washington 2000. Although not legally binding, it was the symbolism of the commitment that was important to my partner and I. Needless to say, we were both in shock when we were featured on CNN Headline news coverage of the event every 15 minutes for 24 hours. At the time, it was also the longest man to man kiss aired on national television in the United States.
So what are people really worried about? Is it possible that gays and lesbians could bastardize the institution of marriage any worse than heterosexuals? Don't 50 percent of all marriage between straights now end in divorce?
The Florida Marriage Amendment, also known as Proposition 2 and The Marriage Protection Amendment, is a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Florida. The proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution will appear on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Florida. In order to pass, the amendment will require a 60% majority of those voting in the election. As of September 8th, 2008, a slight majority of Floridians support the ballot measure (55%), but not 60%; 41% oppose the measure.
The amendment as written includes a clause prohibiting judges from overturning the law. This is a response to what happened in Massachusetts, where a judge overturned that state's law banning same-sex marriage.
The ballot title for the initiative says, "In as much as a marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."
Florida4Marriage is the sponsor of the initiative. The group says that it has widespread support with approximately 35.1% of registered Democrats, 49.2% of registered Republicans and 15.6% of registered independents in favor of the initiative.
Many also believe that the constitutional amendment is also being pushed in order to bring out more conservative voters for the presidential election.
Although taking a "live and let live" stance on the amendment in the past, Governor Crist has also announced his support of Amendment 2. During an August 4 question and answer session with reporters, Crist said of Amendment 2, "I support it." There were claims this was a misprint, but according to Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey, "Yes, he's very supportive of it."
In 2006 Crist signed a petition supporting placing the measure on the ballot, but later chastised the Florida Republican party for contributing $300,000 to Florida4marriage.org, the political action committee supporting the measure.
On September 9, 2008, Governor Crist announced that he will not actively back the amendment, as it is not a top priority for him. "I'll support it, I'll vote for it, move on," the governor said of the Amendment 2 gay-marriage ban in an interview during a trip to tour flood-damaged areas in Central Florida. "It's not top-tier for me, put it that way." Derek Newton, campaign manager for Say No to 2, said Crist's bare-minimum endorsement of the marriage ban is just the latest indicator that the "passion and the fire and the light around this issue has dimmed."
W. James Favorite, pastor of Beulah Baptist Institutional, as well as other African-American pastors, have spoken out in favor of Amendment 2. Although the NAACP opposes the amendment, Favorite says he is offended at the comparison of homosexual civil rights to African-American civil rights. "I am offended at the suggestion that the plight of people who engage in certain sexual behavior is anywhere near equivalent to the struggle of black men and women in this country who suffered and many died for simple equality."
On September 30, a group of church leaders from around the country met outside the Miami-Dade County Courthouse to show their support of Amendment 2. In general, Florida's religious community is strongly in favor of the measure.
Arguments in Favor
* Supporters say the amendment would protect children by ensuring that only the form of marriage between a man and a woman would ever be celebrated in Florida.
* The Florida statute that already provides for a single form of marriage could be overturned by a court on constitutional grounds.
Florida Red and Blue, which believes the amendment will strip existing domestic partnerships of their rights, is fighting the initiative. The group has promised to wage an "all-out" campaign to fight the measure and will be arranging "truth squads" to spread their message.
"There are still those out there who would like to take away personal liberties," said Stephen Gaskill, spokesperson for Florida Red and Blue. He said that his group is certain "Floridians don't want government this deeply involved in their personal lives."
Others, like Rabbi Bruce Diamond, believe that it is an invasion of privacy.
Many are accusing the petition as acting as bait for the Presidential election in order to draw out conservative voters, saying that there is already enough legislation in place currently.
Arguments in Opposition
* A statute already provides for a single form of marriage in Florida.
* Health care and pension benefit plans which cover unmarried couples, even heterosexual older couples, living together and which are now legally valid may be adversely affected.
* Article I of the Florida Constitution, known as the Declaration of Rights, establishes rights, but this amendment would instead limit the right to marry.
The ACLU has come out against the amendment, urging Florida voters to reject it. ACLU officials say they are worried the ballot's language will make it difficult for unmarried couples who share benefits, including many seniors, to continue that.
The NAACP has announced its opposition to the amendment. "We voted to oppose Amendment 2. We do not support any attempt to write discrimination into our state constitution," said Adora obi Nweze, president of Florida's NAACP. "We oppose any legislative or ballot initiative that proposes to treat people differently based on their membership in a particular group. And it's consistent with what our organization has stood for throughout its 99 years.
In the latest poll by Quinnipiac University, Florida voters support the measure 55% to 41% percent, slightly lower than the 58% to 37% support in a June 3 survey by Quinnipiac. While this is a majority, it is not the 60% needed to pass the measure. According to the poll:
* Republicans support the measure 76% to 21%
* Democrats oppose the measure 51% to 45%
* Independent voters oppose the measure 51% to 44%.
* Men support the measure 55% to 41%
* Women support the measure 54% to 42%
* White Evangelical Christians support the measure 78% to 20%.
Well now you have both sides of the story to make your own decision. But I personally am going to ask you not to promote discrimination in Florida and vote NO on Amendment 2.
I hope you had a great day. Still fighting an infection and a high grade fever here.
Wishing you health, hope and happiness.
Big bear hug,