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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Palm Beach Post Editorial: Same ol' same-sex ban

Same ol' same-sex ban
Palm Beach Post Editorial
Wednesday, February 06, 2008

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From Florida Statute 741.212 (1):

"Marriages between persons of the same sex entered into in any jurisdiction ... domestic or foreign ... or relationships between persons of the same sex, which are treated as marriages in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction ... or any other place or location, are not recognized for any purpose in this state."

From Florida Statute 741.212 (2):

"The state, its agencies, and its political subdivisions may not give effect to any public act, record or judicial proceeding of any state, territory, possession, or tribe of the United States or of any other jurisdiction ... domestic or foreign, or any other place or location respecting either a marriage or relationship not recognized under subsection (1) or a claim arising from such a marriage or relationship."

From Florida Statute 741.212 (3):

"For purposes of interpreting any state statute or rule, the term 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the term 'spouse' applies only to a member of such a union."

And just for good measure, Florida Statute 741.04 (1) prohibits any judge or clerk of the court from issuing a marriage license "unless one party is a male and the other party is a female."

All that restrictive language should be enough to reassure even the most skittish Floridian that gays and lesbians won't be exchanging vows or trying to transfer a marriage. But no. Last week, the Department of Elections confirmed that a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Florida will go on the November ballot. To Article I, the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment would add: "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."

So there. Same-sex marriage wouldn't just be illegal; it would be unconstitutional, beyond the power of some future namby-pamby Legislature or court that might want to turn parts of Florida into Cape Cod or San Francisco. Of course, it also would be the first part of the constitution to restrict rights, not grant them. It would make the Florida Constitution a document that protects pregnant pigs but not human beings who want to be part of what people who will vote for this amendment describe as the foundation of society. It could make things tougher for Florida companies trying to recruit employees. It won't deal with insurance costs, the tax system or the real-estate market, which are the state's real priorities.

Instead, it will create a noisy, well-financed distraction as Floridians vote for president. The state's future depends on many things. This amendment isn't one of them.

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