Coming in November

Proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution, which will appear on the ballot this November:

A new section for Article I is hereby created to add the following:
Inasmuch as 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.

I have so many objections to this amendment that I’m not sure where to begin.

Sorry, I lied. I know exactly where to begin. (There’s a great blog post and discussion here, if you’re interested.)

This is a horrible amendment. It not only eliminates the possibility of gay marriage laws (either by statute or case law), but it also makes a more conservative domestic partner law impossible. If that were not bad enough (and it’s more than bad enough), it also could undermine the rights of unmarried, heterosexual couples. Companies could be banned from allowing unmarried couples to purchase health insurance (unless they both work for the same company, and are willing to pay for two separate policies). Domestic partner registries (which allow partners to stay with loved ones before and after surgery in the hospital) could be in jeopardy.

This amendment isn’t just about protecting marriage, whatever that means. It’s about setting aside a group of people, making them second class citizens, and punishing them. Incredibly, it’s saying the status quo isn’t nearly intolerant enough.

Think of the last part of the amendment language “… no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.” Imagine how this broad language could be interpreted by conservative justices. Think of the slippery slope this amendment puts us on. Say these two words to yourself: “institutionalized persecution.” Think about what that means. Ask yourself if the amendment rises to this level, and even if you think it doesn’t, ask yourself if you want the final word on state law to head in this direction.

It’s probably no surprise that I find the unabashed, wide reaching bigotry of the proposed language chilling. If you live in Florida, I hope you’ll join me in voting NO in November.

One web:


  1. I’ve never been able to figure out how giving rights to one group takes away rights from another. There is no pie being carved here. I am really glad I live in Canada, at least for the moment.

    However, when our Prime Minister (a conservative) took office he toyed with the idea of trying to get rid of our law allowing gay marriage. Apparently, it wasn’t wise politically for him to do so, and the matter was dropped. But he wanted to so we must be vigilant because what we’ve learned about our PM is that he is a brilliant strategist, an extreme control freak (he won’t even let his ministers make their own announcements), and he’s a social conservative who has managed to hide this behind fiscal conservatism. He scares me.

    Good luck in November!

  2. Yeah, it’s the usual suspects. I could be wrong, but I think the guy who organized the petition drive (to get the amendment on the ballot) is the Florida version of James Dobson.

    The two biggest contributers to the drive so far (contributing more than 75 percent of the half million raised) have been the Florida GOP and the Florida Catholic Conference (of Bishops).

    As for Florida, we’re an odd group of people. We can go either way in Presidential elections, and there are more registered Democrats than Republicans; but most of our statewide offices are held by conservatives, and somewhere between 70-80 percent of our state legislature is held by conservatives.

    Florida is kind of like three states, each divided by big forrests/swamps. North Florida is sometimes referred to as lower Alabama, and is quite conservative. It’s mostly rural, with a few population centers surrounding military bases. Central Florida (the “I-4 corridor” between St Petersburg, Tampa, and Orlando), along with southwest Florida (Ft Meyers and Naples) can be a little more moderate… but still leans conservative. There’s a huge midwestern influence in central Florida, with a lot of folks from Michigan and Ohio. Miami is a different animal altogether. Most of the elected liberals (relatively speaking) come from Miami, and it’s where most Democrats running for statewide or national office go for fundraising (by contrast, they might not make it out of Jacksonville or Pensacola alive).

    Knowing some of the folks here, the amendment drive is not a surprise. I’m ashamed… but not surprised. I don’t know if it’s still true, but in 2005 we were the only state in the U.S. with a law on the books that banned gay adoption.

    How despicable is that? We’ve decided that it’s better for kids to rot in an overburdened foster-care system than be adopted by a loving gay or lesbian couple. The law got a little bit of coverage in the national news a few years ago when a challenge went as far as the supreme court, but they turned down the case… allowing the lower court’s ruling to stand which upheld the law.

    It’s one of the reasons we’ve often talked about moving (never seriously though – we can’t afford to – besides, somebody’s gotta stick around to try and balance things out)

  3. Is the religious right behind the push? I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an amendment in South Carolina or Mississippi, but it surprises me that Florida would be considering it. Am I way off base here?

  4. We passed an amendment in 2006 which made it harder to pass amendments, but I haven’t seen any polling data yet to see if this one has a chance of reaching the higher threshold. I have no idea which way it will go, but I hope Stephen’s right.

    I’m hoping the record turn out for some of the Democratic primaries so far this year is a good omen.

  5. OMG this is just horrible. I really want someone to explain to me how two gay pr straight people sharing a bed and expenses and loving each other even when the other person is being a goof, puts my marriage in jeopardy

  6. Scary. If this passes, you’re going to live with it for a long time, because the only thing harder to do than change a constitution is to change it back again. Good to see there’s a strong campaign underway to defeat it. And I can’t help believing that the typical Floridian, despite his or her sensitivities, will see the amendment as discriminatory.

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