Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

Friday, February 16, 2007

Saint Pete Times Editorial: Gay marriage rightly goes on back burner

Gay marriage rightly goes on back burner

Published February 16, 2007

Florida law already prevents people of the same gender from marrying each other, so a constitutional ban is necessary only if the objective is to draw moralists to the polls. To his credit, Gov. Charlie Crist says he wants no part in that.

The state Republican Party under chairwoman Carole Jean Jordan went so far as to dump $300,000 into a campaign to put the issue on the 2006 ballot. But the Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage came up short last year and will have to finish the job without party money. Crist's own protege, Jim Greer, is now party chairman, and the governor says he has other priorities.

Crist is showing his appealing pragmatism, preferring to redirect the debate from divisive social issues to the more pressing daily matters of insurance, taxes and public safety. "I'm convinced those are the kinds of issues that the people of Florida want us to focus on," he told reporters, "and I think it would be appropriate for the party to do the same, and I believe they will."
The supporters of the constitutional ban are miffed by Crist's directive, especially since he signed a petition. But they can't be surprised by either his populist priorities or his sensitivity to gay rights. He has said he supports the legal protections accorded by civil unions, and remarked in his Republican primary debate that: "I guess I have a bit more of a 'live and let live' attitude than my opponent does."

Same-sex marriage is being used as a political weapon by Republicans, but most Floridians are far more interested in safe neighborhoods and good schools. Crist is on the right track.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Daytona Beach News Journal Opinion Editorial: Baiting for bigotry

Daytona Beach News Journal

OPINION: Editorial
February 15, 2007
Baiting for bigotry
Gay-marriage issue wrongly used as a vote divider

Gov. Charlie Crist has said he supports civil unions -- but not marriage -- for same-sex couples. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to interpret Crist's recent pronouncement on the subject as a push toward further acceptance.

But when Crist said he doesn't think the GOP should waste any more money fighting the issue, it was a strong rebuke against the leaders of his own party. The anti-gay-marriage issue was more or less manufactured by Florida Republican leaders, who clearly expected to use the question as ballot bait to draw conservative voters to the polls. The numbers don't lie -- the state party ponied up more than half the money reported by, the advocacy group proposing a constitutional amendment "banning" same-sex marriage.

Florida doesn't need this kind of divisiveness, especially in the form of a question that starts out with an implied lie. Florida's laws already deny marriage to same-sex couples; there's no legal rationale to put the issue in the constitution.
That didn't stop Republican leaders, who also failed to consider -- or disregarded -- the bigotry and potentially vehement backlash that a gay-marriage amendment would be guaranteed to ramp up.

Crist's disapproval should be the finishing nail to this ill-conceived notion. The effort was already hamstrung by voter disinterest: Supporters angled to have it on the 2006 ballot, but fell short of required signatures and might not make it in 2008 either.

Instead, state leaders should start looking for a more rational and fair-minded approach, starting with a cool-headed look at civil unions.

A civil-union statute wouldn't give gay and lesbian couples the justice they deserve, but it would provide protections against many of the problems that beset committed same-sex couples. For example, gay couples would gain legal status to settle property and child-custody matters without lengthy, expensive and often painful court battles. It would be easier for same-sex partners to obtain health coverage -- a benefit some of the state's largest companies already extend to the partners of their employees. And lifelong partners would be able to make health-care decisions for each other, instead of being pushed away from the bedside of the person they love.

The state should also reverse its cruel and illogical ban on gay couples adopting -- a goal that's easily accomplished with legislation that elevates a child's best interests above all other considerations.

Crist could have taken a far bolder stand in favor of human rights for same-sex couples. But his statement still carries a lot of weight. Instead of justice, a cadre of GOP leaders chose division and rancor. Instead of priorities all Floridians share -- property insurance, public safety, education -- this same group is spending party money to exploit same-sex families for political gain. It's time to stop.

Gainesville Sun Editorial
Article published Feb 15, 2007
Feb 15, 2007

Hot buttons issues
When the Florida Republican Party poured $300,000 into an anti-gay marriage constitutional initiative two years ago, it was less out of a sense of moral conviction than a tactic to put Democrats on the spot over a hot-button issue. Even then-Gov. Jeb Bush said at the time that the initiative was unnecessary.

But the GOP's funding of had everything to do with politics and very little to do with marriage.

Now comes Gov. Charlie Crist, like his predecessor, a Republican. And to his credit, Crist has spoken out against GOP's funding a gay marriage ban campaign in next year's election. "I think people care about issues like insurance premiums, they care about property taxes, they care about public safety," Crist said this week. "And I think it's important that not only those of us in government but the party focus on those issues too."

Presumably, Crist's opinion carries weight with those who will decide how to spend his party's money. Imagine a political campaign focused on public policy issues "people care about," rather than on polarizing scare tactics that are intended to demonize opponents and divide the electorate.

We commend Gov. Crist for urging his party to "prioritize what we put our energy into."