Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

URGENT: Phoning for Florida

No matter where you live if you have a telephone and an internet connection, you can help!

It is too close to call. That's how pollsters and the media are describing the amendment fight.

Six of the latest polls show that support is steadily declining the more people understand the harmful impact on gay and straight couples alike. We still have an enormous number of people to reach before election day and you can help.

We have organized virtual phone banks, empowering anyone nationwide to help us educate and mobilize fair-minded voters in these final, crucial weeks and help defeat the so-called "Florida Marriage Amendment.

Already allies in Oregon, Maryland, DC, North Carolina, New York and Georgia have stepped up to help hundreds of Florida volunteers get our message out.

In fact, our good friends at Georgia Equality are working to put a phone bank together and they have handed out VoteNoOn2 materials at a pride event that draws lots of Floridians across the border.

This is truly an All Hands on Deck moment. We need our national, state and local allies standing with us as we enter the final weeks as we reach out to 250,000 crucial voters.

It is easy. We will give you a brief training and the software is easy and intuitive even for those who are technologically inclined.

If you want to phone bank once or once a week - we need you.
If you will call from home or bring a team together- we need you.

We all know that a handful of votes in Florida can make all the difference for all of us.

Help us make history and defeat this amendment.

Click here to learn more.

Monday, September 29, 2008

FOX 35 Orlando: Amendment 2 Campaigns Gear Up in Florida

FOX 35 Orlando
Amendment 2 Campaigns Gear Up In Florida
September 29, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) -- Campaigns on both sides of the proposed Amendment 2 are gearing up for a fight. Opponents want to convince voters to reject the measure which would define marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife. Supporters are traveling the state and getting the help from pastors who, in turn, would encourage churchgoers to vote "yes."

"Bad for Florida, bad for families, no on 2!" shouted protesters who staked out a spot near Amway Arena in downtown Orlando on Sunday. They came to express outrage toward Orlando Magic Owner Rich DeVos. DeVos recently gave $100,000 to a group seeking to alter Florida's Constitutionas it pertains to marriage.

"It's got people riled up out here," said Jennifer Foster who is opposed to the amendment.

She, and others, say that writing the definition of marriage into the state constitution would hurt business and impact not only same-sex couples, but also opposite-sex couples. "There's a lot of teachers, a lot of firefghters, a lot of normal hardworking people in Florida that are going to lose their benefits if Amendment 2 passes," said Foster.

John Stemberger, the state chairman of Yes2Marriage, said that claim is not true. He wants the "Florida Marriage Protection" amendment to stop legalized marriage, which has already happened in Massachusetts and California.

"Judges, with one stroke of a pen, redefined this fundamental human institution. We're being proactive, saying we're not going to wait around till some rogue judge strikes down marriage, we're going to protect marriage now."

In addition to defining marriage as the "legal union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife," the language in the measure also states that "no other legal action that is treated as marriage on the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

Read full text of Amendment 2: (After Clicking Links, Use Browser Back Button to Return to This Article)

Foster says it could impact anyone in a domestic partnership. "It will esentially challenge those exisiting benefits, in terms of healthcare coverage, pensions, social security."

Stemberger says that approach is designed to scare people. "It's a really pathetic tactic, but it's the only thing they can do to win. They've lost in twenty-seven states, so they're trying to find a way to win. Now, they're trying to scare our most vunerable and precious citizens, our seniors, saying they're going to lose Social Security benefits. It's utter legal nonsense."

Amendment 2 needs 60 percent of voter approval to pass. Along with Florida, California and Arizona will also vote on marriage amendments this November.

On the web:

Against Amendment 2 - VoteNoOn2

Against Amendment 2 -

Central Florida Future: Amendment 2 Will Violate Civil Rights

Central Florida Future
Amendment 2 Will Violate Civil Rights
September 29, 2008
What do you get when you cross a turkey, a chicken and a duck? Turducken, maybe. What do you get when you cross a man and another man, or a woman and another woman?

According to the Orlando-based group Florida4Marriage, you get an inferior family who doesn't deserve the same rights and protections that are afforded to a "traditional" family of a man and a woman.

In the interest of full disclosure, Florida4Marriage is actually a coalition of organizations such as the Florida Catholic Conference and the Florida Baptist Convention, and receives most of its funding from the Florida Republican Party.

With that said, Amendment 2, which has been so cleverly dubbed the "Florida Marriage Protection Amendment," is attempting to set the state's gay marriage ban in stone by making it a constitutional amendment.

We unequivocally cannot allow this initiative to pass because not only would the amendment bring about an entirely new civil-rights movement against a blatant injustice, but also would, in effect, dissolve all civil unions in the state of Florida. Even heterosexual couples would lose their common-law marriage status, and subsequently forfeit any benefits that are shared with a significant other.

The state of Michigan passed a similar referendum in 2004, and the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that public institutions could no longer offer health insurance and other benefits to domestic partners. This means that divorced, widowed or just unmarried couples would lose all shared benefits, including health insurance coverage that is essential to the overwhelming majority of seniors in Florida.

Even the Orlando Sentinel editorial board had a rare moment of clarity and stated, "This amendment does more than just target homosexual unions. It puts all manner of domestic partnerships at a possible disadvantage … state law already restricts marriage to a man and a woman, and Florida doesn't recognize gay unions performed in other states. This measure seems more like a cynical attempt to bring out the conservative base in a presidential election year."
Don't worry though; it won't affect the UCF community because, unlike many public and private institutions in Florida, there are no domestic partner benefits for UCF faculty and staff in the first place. This has been a point of contention between groups like GLBSU and UCF administration for years, but it doesn't look like President John Hitt is willing to back down from his ultra-conservative foothold. Case in point: up until last semester, there were no provisions in the student non-discrimination policy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students on campus. So if you're harassed for being homosexual, UCF doesn't (officially) care.

But if Amendment 2 passes, people like Rep. Sally Kern (R-Okla.) who think gays are the "biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam" will start coming out of the woodwork here in Florida, and our state will begin to look like the peak of the bible belt.

California is currently in a position similar to ours. Proposition 8 was placed on their ballot this summer following the ruling in May to overturn the state's gay marriage ban by the California Supreme Court. Anti-abortion groups immediately went out and began gathering the signatures that they needed to get a constitutional amendment initiative on the ballot.

These "marriage protection" amendments are nothing more than political ploys to get faith-based constituents who don't normally partake in politics to go to the polls and vote for something they feel strongly about. Since they will be there already, why not vote for other conservative candidates and initiatives?

Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell said it best in a recent article, "[We hear] more and more from people who tend to downplay the bulk of the Bible - which tells us to love and care for one another - [and] instead focus on the handful of passages they believe give them a license to discriminate." He also said that it's this continued negativity from the church that has caused the significant loss of faith in this country over the last several decades.

We couldn't agree more. If Christian morals and American values are at the core of this argument, then why isn't adultery on the constitutional-ban agenda? It was clearly important enough to put it in stone and declare it one of the Ten Commandments, yet we find religious groups trying to ban something that wasn't even on that list.

When you go to the polls in November, think about the widespread repercussions that this initiative would have on civil rights and senior rights. Don't vote for an amendment that would send our state back into the social dark ages.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tampa Bay Tribune Opinion: Kick Jim Crow Out Of Constitution And Don't Put Marriage In

Kick Jim Crow Out Of Constitution And Don't Put Marriage In

The Tampa Tribune

Published: September 28, 2008

The presidential campaign may command the spotlight, but voters on Nov. 4 also will be asked to change the Florida constitution in six ways.

The most controversial proposals - a multibillion dollar tax-swap plan and a pair of school voucher amendments - were pulled from the ballot earlier this month by the Florida Supreme Court, which called the ballot language misleading.

Four of those remaining were drafted by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. The Legislature proposed a fifth amendment, and a citizen's group,, collected enough signatures to put a sixth - the "Florida Marriage Protection Amendment" - before voters.

Passage of any amendment requires at least 60 percent voter approval.

Here are our recommendations.

Amendment 2

The most notable of the proposals, Amendment 2, is the citizen's initiative that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. It reads: "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."

Backers of the amendment shouldn't expect Florida voters to get exercised about this issue during an election year in which there are so many more important matters to weigh.

Besides, Florida law already limits marriage to a man and a woman. The federal Defense of Marriage Act also protects states from having to recognize gay marriages made elsewhere. Existing laws make this amendment duplicative and unnecessary.

While polls show a majority of Floridians disapprove of gay marriage, it's hard to believe most people would want to ban homosexuals from visiting the bedsides of their dying partners, as happened this year at a Miami hospital with family-only visitation rules. But because this amendment would ban "the substantial equivalent" of marriage, which includes civil unions, hospitals could continue to do just that.

The amendment also threatens the continuation of health insurance and other benefits that employers provide to non-married couples, straight or gay, young or old.

Critics of the proposal accuse its proponents of prejudice, but Florida4Marriage insists its purpose is to defend traditional marriage and its foundational role in a stable, civil society. The group says state laws are not enough when judges, with the swipe of a pen, can overturn them.

We are sympathetic to those who would protect traditional marriage as a sacred trust. These are people who fear for our culture and lament the loss of respect for the institution. But changing the constitution, when it hasn't proven necessary, is not the way to do it. We urge you to Vote No on Amendment 2.

St. Augustine Record

St. Augustine Record
Annual Pride Festival held at Amphitheater
September 28, 2008
Katherine Archer performs during the Ancient City Pride Festival at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre Saturday afternoon, September 27, 2008. By DARON DEAN,

As a pastor gave an invocation, a woman bowed her head and held a sign above it.

"Would Jesus discriminate?" the sign read.

The answer from the pastor and likely everyone else attending the Ancient City Pride Festival on Saturday was a resounding no.

Though the roughly 500 people there were to celebrate either their homosexuality or to support others', there were several reminders of why they needed to celebrate in the first place.

"It's a celebration of how far we've come and where we are," Lanny Ballard, the president of Ancient City Pride, said of the festival. "But it's also a reminder of how far we still have to go."

Ballard and his partner were married 16 years ago in New York, but the marriage isn't legally recognized, he said.

He hopes, one day, it will be.

But that day might not come, at least not in Florida, if a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between men and women is passed come Nov. 4.

The question posed on the woman's sign was a common phrase Saturday. It was on shirts, signs, banners and asked again by the Rev. Ruth Jensen from the First Coast Metropolitian Community Church in St. Augustine.

With Election Day a few weeks off, Jensen said, "We thought it was very important for our church to start asking an important question: Would Jesus discriminate?"

The crowd shouted, "No."

One woman yelled, "Hell no."

"The answer of course is no," Jensen said, "and Jesus would not want any discrimination written into the constitution of the state of Florida."

The amendment is backed by a coalition of churches and has been endorsed by several Republican lawmakers, including Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.

Beki Reyes, an openly gay St. Augustine resident, said, for her, the festival is about celebrating the gay community as well as taking a stand against the discrimination it faces.

Reyes, who sported a "Would Jesus discriminate?" T-shirt, said, "We're all one people from one God, and we all deserve to be treated humanely."

Donna Vaughn, a straight woman from Jacksonville, would agree.

Vaughn, who was there with about a dozen members of her church, said they were there to apologize to the gay community for the way some people had treated them in the name of God or religion.

"We feel like the gay community has taken a lot of crap from the so-called religious community," she said.

No matter where the "crap" comes from, Ballard said, there are still many people who, for a number of reasons, can't announce their homosexuality.

For those people, this year's venue might have been more conducive to being comfortable in their own skin.

In years past, the event was held at Francis Field in downtown, where a smattering of people protested homosexuality. This year it was held at the St. Augustine Amphitheater.

"In the South, you still have people who have to be in the closet, and this is a little more secluded," he said.

Whether Amendment 2 passes or it doesn't, Ballard said his community indeed has a lot to be proud of.

"Thank goodness we have people fighting for it," he said. "We wouldn't be this far if we hadn't had people fighting for it in the past."

Posted by: ZekePTB at Sep. 28, 2008 at 4:24:07 pm
Thank to St. Augustine Record for your news article on St. Augustine's annual pride festival.
I'd like to congratulate the Ancient City Pride Festival for holding another successful festival. Know the hard work and time your staff put forth in putting this festival together on behalf of your your local GLBT community, our friends and allies is very much appreciated. I was pleased to see they took the opportunity to focus awareness to this damaging and mean-spirited Amendment 2. They made an excellent point during the festival, "Would Jesus discriminate?" If Florida voters really take this question to heart, they surely would agree he would never condone discrimination of any of God's children.
With heterosexual couples divorces continuing to climb, now reaching 52%. This "so-called marriage protection amendment" will do nothing to stop this. In fact, the misleading and carefully crafted wording of this amendment will go much further then just preventing gay marriage, which is already illegal by several Florida laws. It will open the door to permanently deny any possibility of civil unions and worse yet will repeal domestic partnerships. Only 40,000 gay couple make up the 360,000 couples registered as domestic partners are gay couples. So this amendment will most adversely effect heterosexual couples, with the majority of them being our senior citizens.
This happened in Michigan and Kentucky, which passed amendments with similar wording, and let their be no doubt, Florida will be next.
Please don't be mislead by YesOn2 leaders, Amendment 2 will in fact effect domestic partner benefits and rights. They believe Florida voters are stupid, I hope you will prove them wrong. Vote No On 2, protect existing benefits, rights and don't write discrimination into our states constitution.

Palm Beach Post: Gay Marriage Not The Issue For Black Clergy

Palm Beach Post
Gay Marriage Not The Issue For Black Clergy

Friday, September 26, 2008

Critique of Florida's Gay-Marriage Foes Evokes Kudos, Curses

Orlando Sentinel
Critique of Florida's Gay-Marriage Foes Evokes Kudos, Curses
September 26, 2008

Every once in a while, you guys surprise me.

I expected a lot of reaction to Sunday's column about the anti-gay-marriage amendment and my frustration over those Christians who seem obsessed with homosexuality while often overlooking Jesus' instructions for compassion.

And boy, did I get it.

What I wasn't expecting, though, was how overwhelmingly supportive it was.

Though I was prepared for heavy doses of angry e-mail and condemnation, what I got were hundreds of messages of thanks. I had to stop responding after 200 or so.

Most came from self-described heterosexual Christians. They included about a dozen members of the clergy, including ministers, priests and rabbis.

Most said that they too were tired of seeing their faith hijacked by people who use the Lord's name primarily to discriminate.

There were certainly objectors as well. Some were thoughtful and even prayerful in explaining their opinions. I appreciated those.

Others expressed pity for my children, my church and society at large. One woman suggested that most pastors who don't condemn homosexuality are gay themselves. And I generated two condemnations to hell and at least one canceled subscription.

But many of the responses were so thoughtful and passionate, I thought I would share some of them.

*Said LeAnne: "Thank you and bless you for being a voice of reason and kindness. How odd that Jesus' teachings of compassion, open-heartedness, and understanding are now 'suspect' as a left-wing, anti-family agenda."

*Julius said: "In my practice of ordained ministry for 27 years (now retired) . . . I fear that you are correct that the essence -- the truth -- of the Gospel is too often lost, if not deliberately ignored, in the so-called 'Christian' rhetoric of politicians and their faithful supporters. I am grateful for your own faithful witness to the message of love and service of God and our fellow humans in need which is so clearly at the heart of the Bible."

*Said Nancy: "Bravo and thank you for today's column. In 52 years, I have not found a passage in the Bible that teaches me who to hate -- only those I should love."

*Warned Carol: "I would be very careful in allowing 'political correctness' to manipulate God's word (the Bible) and suggest reading Revelation 22:18 & 19 . . . a most solemn last warning."

*Observed Anita: " 'Thou shall not commit adultery' is one of the Ten Commandments, but I don't see these same people advocating a ban on adultery. Yet they expect us to believe that an issue that isn't even in the Ten Commandments is more important and deserves more attention than the ones God deemed important enough to have written in stone."

*Wrote George: "I have been a subscriber to the Sentinel since 1972 when I moved to Central Florida. I now wish to cancel my subscription to your paper and am asking you to send back the unused portion of my subscription. I can no longer support a paper that is so blatantly anti-Christian."

*Scott R. wrote: "If Jesus were here today he would completely ignore these battles being fought in his name. Where would we find him? Amongst the poor and the suffering; where he has always been."

*Asked Joe: "Are you sure the god you have created in your brain is the God you will meet when you pass through your door of death? . . . I am not judging you."

*Said Pat: "You make one wonder who these people really are and what is their agenda. If they insist on a true literal reading of the Bible, then I suggest they count the number of times the Bible condemns adultery and fornication. As the Bible says, shall they be stoned to death, exiled from their homes or shunned by their family and friends?"

*Wrote Scott G.: "As a pastor in Orlando for the past 25 years I share your passion for actions versus judgment. Several years ago I made a personal decision to shift from 'preaching' to 'doing.' I can't tell you the sense of fulfillment. Although I still preach, the church needs more than just preaching /thumping. It needs faith and action."

*And finally, Tom made a point about the Catholic Diocese, which supports Amendment 2, but "has also exhorted its congregations to care for the less fortunate . . . and has provided the vehicles for the faithful to do just that."

And that last point, I can certainly respect.

In fact, that was a primary point of Sunday's column.

Reasonable people can disagree on homosexuality. Even the clergy is divided.

I may question why those who crusade against homosexuality in God's name don't lead similar charges to outlaw adultery or divorce. But I can still respect an organization such as the local diocese, which also speaks forcefully on issues of compassion and charity in this community.

I can not respect, though, those who invoke the Lord's name primarily as an excuse to divide and discriminate.

And, as so many of you said, I am not alone.

Scott Maxwell can be reached at or 407-420-6141.

St. Pete Times: When We Deny Rights, We Give Them Up

St. Petersburg Times
When We Deny Rights, We Give Up Rights
By Dan DeWitt, Times Columnist
September 26, 2008

By forbidding gay and lesbian residents from either marrying or adopting children, Florida law bans them from forming families — at least legally recognized ones.

Think about that, and tell me it's not the most outrageous civil rights violation inflicted on any group of citizens in our state.

Think about this, too: It's not just unfair to them; it's harmful to all of us, because marriage and family are the building blocks of citizenship.

On this point — and, let me be clear, on this point only — I agree with Yes2Marriage, the organization pushing the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage that will appear on the November ballot.

"We believe that the institution of marriage serves both a personal and a public purpose within our society,'' the group's Web site says. "As such, public policy should promote healthy and strong marriages.''

Exactly right. This is not to say, of course, that single and childless people don't care about community. It's just that family more or less forces you to care.

You buy a home for stability, then start keeping an eye on government because it's spending your property taxes. You want the streets to be safe for your kids, and their schools to be excellent. When they sign up for soccer or Scouts, you might even feel an unfamiliar urge to volunteer your time.

Most of my gay friends and acquaintances — your neighbors in Hernando — follow this path as far as the law allows. They hold steady jobs, own homes, care for parents and siblings, and try to find lasting relationships.

If these don't always survive as long as marriages, it's because they lack bonds such as (usually) kids and the legal right to fully share property. Of course, many, many gay unions are just as long-lasting and mutually supportive as any marriage.

"I'm a widower,'' said Gil Williams, 79, of Spring Hill, a retired export salesman from New York whose partner of 34 years, David Molloy, died nine years ago.

"I called him my spouse,'' Williams said. They would have certainly considered marriage if it had been an option, he said, and possibly adopting a child.

"When I was growing up, I always thought one of human beings' greatest joys would be to raise a child to be a good citizen of the country and the world,'' Williams said.

It should be obvious that we'd benefit by inviting people like Williams to fully participate in our society and that, as Williams said, "discarding and ignoring us is not a family value.''

But it's not obvious, apparently, to Yes2Marriage, and not, I was sad to learn from reading recent poll results, to the 58 percent of voters who say they support the amendment — close to the 60 percent majority required for passage.

This is worse than just bigotry. It's gratuitous bigotry because gay marriage is already banned in four different sections of Florida law.

So what will the approval of this amendment really do?

According to opponents, it will jeopardize shared benefits for all unmarried domestic partners, gay and straight. It will probably get a lot of conservative Republican voters fired up during a presidential election year, which, I suspect, is probably the whole point.

And, of course, it will insult fellow Floridians who have done nothing to deserve it.

If this sounds good to you, then by all means vote for Amendment 2.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 Residents Protest Proposed Gay Marriage Ban

Residents Protest Proposed Gay Marriage Ban
09/24/08 - 12:25 PM

Tuquyen Mach - bio

Panama City, Fla:

Several groups are getting together today to encourage Floridians to vote no on a proposal to ban gay marriage.

On November 4, residents will vote on Amendment Two, which would define marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.

The Bay County Chapter of the ACLU of Florida,Emerald Coast Pride, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG) Panama City, and Gulf Coast Community College Gay-Straight Alliance held a rally Wednesday evening at the corner of 23rd Street and W. Highway 98 to show their opposition to the amendment.

A group called sponsored the initiative and got enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

Read the full text of Amendment Two by clicking here.

Click here to read more about who proposed Amendment Two and how many signatures the initiative received.

Video link

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Orlando Sentinel: What we think about Florida's amendments

Orlando Sentinel Editorial,0,862201.story

Orlando Sentinel: Amendment 2? Bad Idea

Bad idea. This amendment does more than just target homosexual unions. It puts all manner of domestic partnerships at a possible disadvantage. For example, after a similar measure passed in Michigan in 2004, the state's Supreme Court ruled that public institutions could no longer offer health and other benefits to domestic partners of the same sex. Many institutions found a way around the ruling, but why put people in Florida at risk? Besides, state law already restricts marriage to a man and a woman, and Florida doesn't recognize gay unions performed in other states. This measure seems more like a cynical attempt to bring out the conservative base in a presidential election year.

Our recommendation: Vote No.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Naples Daily News: Photo Gallery

Donnie Schumaker, right, and other members of the group PFLAG, hold signs on the corner of U.S. 41 and Pine Ridge Road encouraging passing motorists to vote no on Amendment Two in the upcoming Nov. elections on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. The protest came one week after pro-Amendment Two groups took to the streets to ask people to vote yes. Passing Amendment Two would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Florida legislature. Greg Kahn/Staff

John Riccio, left, and other members of the group PFLAG, hold signs on the corner of U.S. 41 and Pine Ridge Road encouraging passing motorists to vote no on Amendment Two in the upcoming Nov. elections on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. The protest came one week after pro-Amendment Two groups took to the streets to ask people to vote yes. Passing Amendment Two would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Florida legislature. Greg Kahn/Staff

Motorists watch while waiting at a red light as members of the group PFLAG, hold signs on the corner of U.S. 41 and Pine Ridge Road encouraging passers-by to vote no on Amendment Two in the upcoming Nov. elections on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. The protest came one week after pro-Amendment Two groups took to the streets to ask people to vote yes. Passing Amendment Two would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Florida legislature. Greg Kahn/Staff

Members of the group PFLAG, hold signs on the corner of U.S. 41 and Pine Ridge Road encouraging passing motorists to vote no on Amendment Two in the upcoming Nov. elections on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. The protest came one week after pro-Amendment Two groups took to the streets to ask people to vote yes. Passing Amendment Two would define marriage as between a man and a woman in the Florida legislature. Greg Kahn/Staff

Naples Daily News: Naples rally held to urge ‘no’ vote on man-woman marriage amendment

Naples rally held to urge ‘no’ vote on man-woman marriage amendment

By I.M. STACKEL (Contact)
Originally published 7:59 p.m., Saturday, September 20, 2008
Updated 9:12 p.m., Saturday, September 20, 2008

NAPLES — Who has the authority to state what constitutes a marriage of souls?

Talk to those of many faiths, and they’ll emphatically stress that homosexuality and same-sex marriages are wrong.

What people think about same-sex marriage will be determined in November when Floridians get to vote on Amendment 2. The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment states that a legal marriage consists of a man and woman.

The amendment goes on to state that “no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) oppose the amendment.

PFLAG, members of Celebration Metropolitan Church, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, and the American Civil Liberties Union rallied Saturday at U.S. 41 North and Pine Ridge Road to ask people to vote “no.”

The amendment will affect straight couples who live together but aren’t legally married, PFLAG president Gabrielle “Gay” Gilmore said Saturday.

“There are many counties and cities in Florida (that recognize) cohabitation as a domestic couple,” Gilmore said.

“Amendment 2 is a mean-spirited effort on the part of religious zealots, with the unintended consequence of punishing all domestic partnerships,” Gilmore said.

Signs and T-shirts at the gathering were direct in their messages.

“Is it still reigning bigots?” asked a poster held by Lisa Kalin, 39, and yes, she meant “reign.”

Frank Dowd, 60, wore a T-shirt that stated “Would Jesus Discriminate?” and said this type of amendment was passed in Michigan in 2006, and it devastated any type of domestic partnership: gays and straights lost their benefits.

John Boettjer, 73, a member of the Unitarian Church, said he believes in civil rights for everyone.

“Amendment 2 is a violation of constitutional rights,” he said.

Local activist John Riccio, 70, walked with the protesters.

“Hate is not a family value,” Riccio said. “This is just mean and hateful.”

Douglas Phillips, 46, a server at a Chile’s restaurant, was riding his bicycle and stopped to ask what was going on. A few protesters explained the issue to him.

Afterward, when asked what he thought of their stance, Phillips said: “I agree with them 100 percent. I’d vote ‘no.’”

There must be a separation of church and state, he said.

That is not the view of Naples’ First Baptist Church, which held one of 10 press conferences around the state in mid-April to formally launch the campaign against gay unions. At the time, Senior Pastor Hayes Wicker called gay marriage a tremendous social crisis.

Likewise, a “vote yes” rally two weeks ago had representatives from several Collier County churches, including St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in East Naples, First Baptist Church in North Naples, St. Agnes Mission Catholic Church in North Naples and St. Ann Catholic Parish in Naples.

Amendment 2 needs approval from 60 percent of Florida voters to pass.

St. Pete Times: Undecided voters key to gay marriage ban

Undecided voters key to gay marriage ban
St. Petersburg Times -- September 20, 2008
by Alex Leary

A proposal to ban gay marriage in the Florida Constitution is within striking distance of success, according to a new poll.

The St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 survey shows 58 percent of voters approve the proposal to define marriage as between a man and woman.

The poll, which was also underwritten by the Miami Herald, has a margin of error of 3.5 percent, meaning Amendment 2 has a shot at getting the 60 percent required to amend the state Constitution.

The poll showed 37 percent oppose the measure and 5 percent are undecided.

The new poll shows a slight increase over one conducted Sept. 2-4 by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute that showed 55 percent approval and a 2.6 percent margin of error.

The new poll comes as proponents launched an aggressive campaign to spread the word through church congregations.

"From the foundations of this earth, that's what God made it to be, between a man and a woman," said Joyce Payne, 68, a Temple Terrace Republican who participated in the poll. "I'm sorry it's even coming to a vote. These homosexual rights are just being forced on us."

But the proposed ban — similar to a current state law — is not certain to pass given the 60 percent threshold, which voters approved in 2006, at the Legislature's urging, to keep frivolous measures out of the state Constitution.

"When I was younger, I would have been for the ban," said Victor Collazo, 35, an independent voter in Orlando. "I'm Catholic, and I know what the Bible says, but sometimes you just have to change. People have rights."

Support among Republicans was an overwhelming 74 percent, while only 44 percent of Democrats want the ban. Independents are nearly divided. But in a year when there is the first African-American major party candidate on the presidential ballot, 65 percent of black poll respondents said they would vote for Amendment 2.

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway thinks the measure could have trouble passing in the midst of a financial meltdown. "With the economy and so much uncertainty, people often don't want to say yes. They just say, 'When in doubt, pull no.' "

Florida headed in wrong direction

A new St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll suggests Floridians aren't too happy with their state. They want to drill and are likely to ban gay marriage. But they still like their governor.

58 percent of Florida voters want to amend the state Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, thereby prohibiting marriage between homosexuals. The so-called gay marriage ban, on the ballot as Amendment 2, needs 60 percent approval to pass in November. 37 percent of voters oppose the measure.

59 percent support oil drilling closer than 125 miles from the Florida coast. No real surprise here. As gas prices grew at the pump, so did Floridians' tolerance for offshore drilling. Two years ago, as gas prices approached $3, 46 percent said they supported lifting the drilling ban off Florida's coast. Now with gas close to $4, the sentiment appears to have grown. 33 percent of voters still oppose drilling.

John McCain may have passed him over for running mate, but Floridians still like their governor. 53 percent give Gov. Charlie Crist a favorable job rating, down from 57 percent in a January poll. Crist took office 20 months ago, and 13 percent of voters rated his performance as excellent; 40 percent said good. 34 percent of voters gave him fair ratings; 11 percent poor.

51 percent say Florida is headed in the wrong direction. Amid the turmoil in the national economy, Floridians' view of their own state turned more pessimistic during the past 10 months. In January, 50 percent said the state was headed in the wrong direction; in November 2007, 44 percent. The new poll shows 32 percent think Florida is heading in the right direction and 10 percent are mixed.

About the poll: The telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted Sept. 14-17 by SEA Polling and Strategic Design, whose clients are primarily Democrats, and the Polling Co., which works mainly with Republicans. The poll, also underwritten by the Miami Herald, has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Friday, September 19, 2008

365 Gay: News- Clergy to oppose Fla. anti-gay amendment

365 Gay: News
Clergy to oppose Fla. anti-gay amendment
By 365gay Newscenter Staff
09.19.2008 2:57pm EDT

(Miami, Florida) Moderate religious leaders from across Florida are speaking out against a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would ban same-sex marriage and could be used to deny benefits to co-habitating non-married couples - both straight and gay.

Dozens of pastors and rabbis met in meetings in six areas statewide this week to denounce the proposed amendment, saying they will tell their congregations to vote against it in November.

Leaders of Fairness for All Families, the umbrella group formed to fight the amendment, attended all six meetings, telling the religious leaders that the amendment would affect people of all faiths and do far more than ban same-sex marriage.

“This will prohibit the Legislature from conducting civil unions or anything that would give, by law, any substantial rights to partners,” Beth Fountain, the Tampa Bay field organizer for Fairness for All Families told a meeting in Clearwater. “This goes well beyond the gay marriage issue.”

The meetings came a week after conservative pastors meet to voice support for the amendment.

Florida already has a law restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples, but supporters of the amendment say the law could be overturned in court.

The conservative group Florida4Marriage attempted to have the proposed amendment placed on the 2006 ballot but fell short of the required number of signatures. Under Florida law, the organization was allowed to continue to add names to the petition in a bid to get it on the 2008 ballot. It was certified in February to go on the November ballot.

Last year it was discovered that the state GOP was bankrolling the amendment effort.

An investigation by the St. Petersburg Times into funding for the Florida4Marriage found that of the $193,000 that had been raised by the group $150,000 came from a single donor - the Florida Republican Party.

A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month found that 55 percent of voters support the amendment - short of the 60 percent needed to amend the constitution.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tampa Bay Times: Interfaith group counters push for gay marriage amendment

Clergy Speak Out Against Amendment 2
By Sherri Day, Times Staff Writer

Published Wednesday, September 17, 2008 10:17 PM

A mirror in the social hall at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater reflects a group of ministry leaders who oppose Amendment 2, which would essentially ban gay marriage.

CLEARWATER — A group of interfaith leaders pledged Wednesday to use their pulpits and influence to defeat Amendment 2, the constitutional measure that would essentially ban gay marriage in Florida.

The ministers and rabbis agreed to preach sermons, organize town hall meetings and ask their members to volunteer to work phone banks. The clerics also plan to hold a public rally on Oct. 26 to outline what they describe as the amendment's dangers.

Sixteen leaders gathered for Wednesday's strategy session, just a week after a group of Baptist pastors and other ministers met in Gibsonton to launch a statewide campaign to rally conservative Christians in favor of the amendment.

That effort, which drew about 50 people, was one of six planned statewide.

The leaders who gathered in Clearwater admit they lack money and organization.

Representatives from Fairness for All Families told them to get the word out that the amendment would do more than outlaw gay marriage. They argue that it would adversely affect people of all religions, sexual orientations and ages who are coupled but unmarried.

"This will prohibit the Legislature from conducting civil unions or anything that would give, by law, any substantial rights to partners," said Beth Fountain, the Tampa Bay field organizer for Fairness for All Families. "This goes well beyond the gay marriage issue."

The amendment would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and would not recognize any other legal pairing.

The Rev. Tom Messer, a Jacksonville pastor who is organizing the conservative Christian effort, said the amendment's opponents are using deceptive arguments.

"Amendment 2 is not going to take away any existing rights and benefits from anyone," said Messer, who has now met with more than 200 pastors throughout the state. "It's not changing the law."

The Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater, hosted Wednesday's meeting. He called the leaders together after he learned about the conservative Christian leaders' efforts.

The gathering drew Christian and Jewish leaders from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, representing a diverse mix of denominations, including two synagogues, the Unity Church, the Potter's House and the United Church of Christ.

Though determined, their opposition has a head start. The amendment proponents have been organizing for nearly two moths, offering yard signs, a Web site detailing suggestions for sermons and materials to distribute to congregations.

On Wednesday, Fountain provided the clergy with yard signs and other materials but said her organization had run out of campaign materials.

Still, Janamanchi says he is not worried.

"I'm not intimidated," he said. "If anything, I feel energized."

The interfaith leaders said they feel compelled to show voters, both religious and secular, that believers are not monolithic in their politics.

"People of faith need to respond to a discriminatory amendment that has been backed by another group of faith-based people," said the Rev. Phyllis Hunt, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Tampa. "I don't want one small section of the whole faith-based community to be the only voice speaking on an issue. Conservative Christians are not the only faith-based voice."

Several of the ministers pledged to use their pulpits to speak about the issue on Oct. 19, the day before early voting begins. That is the same day Messer's group has designated as "marriage Sunday," asking pastors to preach sermons in favor of the measure.

Rabbi Stephen Moch, who leads Congregation B'Nai Emmunah in Tarpon Springs, said he plans to give a sermon on the issue at a Friday service prior to that Sunday.

"It's critical for us not to succumb to the politics of fear and exclusion and to stand up for people's freedoms and rights … and reach out to people in love," Moch said. "That's the true religious response, as opposed to a reactionary response which unfortunately is what many religious leaders on the right are evoking from their congregants."

Sherri Day can be reached at or (813) 226-3405.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Florida Opponents of Proposition 2 Have Over 24,000 Friends on Social Networking Sites

Why Candidates are Not Targeting Younger Voters on TV
With over 19 social networking sites against Florida's Proposition 2 alone, it is no wonder!

Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 03:28PM

Political campaigns—take note!

Have you been paying attention to all the fascinating news about how the Internet is increasing becoming a leading source of campaign information for young voters?

According to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace play a crucial role in the scheme of things.

According to the article, 42 percent of young voters, ages 18 to 29, say they regularly learn about campaign news from the Internet—the highest percentage for any news source. That number slightly doubled compared to the last presidential election season in 2004. In Florida, there are over 19 different social networking communities registered against Proposition 2. Facebook and MySpace alone have over 24,000 Proposition 2 opponents combined.

Yes, we’ve undoubtedly entered a new era of political campaigning where even Web sites are “so last season”. Social media is where the key target markets can be reached. Today, it’s more than raising money and spreading the word, it’s about establishing relationships and starting conversations—and it can be done without knocking on a single door.

In a study of college students conducted by Burst Media, one third spent at least 10 hours a week on the Internet. Less than 20 percent of those surveyed spent that much time watching TV or listening to the radio. What does this mean to candidates and those pushing for laws or amendments? It means that if you want the vote of young voters, social media and other Internet outlets are the way to achieve your goals.

Although success can be measured by how many friends you have on MySpace or how many fans your cause has on Facebook, the real success comes in following these potential voters through the election. Reaching out to young voters is one thing, but social networking initiatives have to do more than create buzz. They have to inspire our youth to make a difference and support your cause.

Integrated social networking campaigns have the power to gain awareness, promote causes and increase bottom line results in a variety of industries. Whether it’s raising money for a nonprofit organization, gaining new business for a local company or winning over the votes for or against a particular candidate—social media is changing the game.

The Obama and McCain campaigns have worked hard in their fight to win Florida’s electoral votes targeting younger voters. Because of the excitement and hype around the presidential campaign, opponents of Proposition 2 have benefited by social networking sites. All together, online communities against Proposition 2 have grown to an estimated 24,000 supporters.

What should this say to the dedicated campaign staff that is working so hard to defeat Proposition 2 in Florida? If opponents of Prop 2 focuses efforts on building up the existing 19 social networking communities and rally them against the proposition, the campaign could go viral over night and result in over 100,000 votes against Prop 2. We all know that if we turn out 45,000 to 90,000 votes against Proposition 2, it will lead to its defeat.

Please join me in my opposition to Proposition 2 by clicking on the link below and impacting this election way greater than any ad on network TV ever could while taking our fight for equality viral!

Stop Proposition 2!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Miami Herald "Naked Politics" Blog - - September 7, 2008
By Mary Ellen Klas

Gov Charlie Crist continues to ride high job approval ratings according
to a new poll from Quinnipiac University but the luck's not as good for
the ballot amendment he supports but is not actively campaigning for --
the amendment to ban gay marriages.

Florida voters are satisfied with the governor's performance, with 61
percent favorable compared to 25 percent who say he's doing a poor job.
But he isn't on the ballot this year and the proposal to enshrine in the
state constitution a definition that marriage is between a man and a
woman falls short of the 60 percent approval threshold. Voters support
Amendment 2 by 55-41 percent. Republicans favor it 76-21 percent while
Democrats oppose it 51-45 percent.

Two of the three other amendments, which were stripped off the November
ballot last week by the Florida Supreme Court, also appeared in trouble.
The poll was taken from Sept. 2-4 and began before the court tossed the
amendments. But two nights of polling showed that Amendment 5, which
would have eliminated property taxes that pay for schools and replace
them with a sales tax and other revenues, was supported by 51-39
percent, short of the 60 percent needed for passage.

Amendment 9, which on its face indicated it was intended to give at
least 65 percent of public school funds to the classroom, also would
have opened the door to any state-sanctioned private school vouchers. It
appeared on its way to passage with 65 – 24 percent support.

The third proposal, Amendment 7, which would have eliminated the
century-old "no aid" provision that banned the use of state money for
religious institutions and also would have allowed for more school
vouchers, fell short of approval with voters opposed to it 57 – 38 percent.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sixty Day Countdown

Sixty days from today,
millions of Florida voters will vote NO on Amendment 2

Polling shows us that this amendment will be decided by a very slim margin. In the next 60 days, we must talk to 400,000 Florida undecided voters and make it clear that Amendment 2 will strip away essential domestic partner benefits and family protections.

When people understand the harm inflicted by Amendmet 2, they vote NO.

Will you help?

We know you will vote NO on 2 November 4th, but we need your help to reach 400,000 more voters who will vote NO.

There are two immediate ways you can help.

1) Phone Bank - Sign up to phone. If you like to talk - and we know you do - phone banking is a fun and effective way to educate voters.

2) Contribute - With your help, we'll use our enormous grassroots network to educate voters face-to face. We'll talk to voters on the phone and ask them to vote NO On 2. We'll mail tens of thousands of voters information on why Amendment 2 is bad for Florida. But we can only do it with your support.

We only have sixty days to ensure this mean-spirited amendment stays out of the Florida Constitution.

We need you now!


Nadine Smith
Co-Chair, Fairness for All Families, Inc.

How Will Amendment 2 Hurt Seniors? Ask Paulina...

As a home health nurse, I have the amazing opportunity to work with Florida Seniors. Many of these seniors, approaching their 70's, 80's, 90's and sometimes 100's, have outlived their first husband or wife. Some of these seniors, have been lucky and blessed enough to find another life partner. Though, with respect to their first spouse, they choose to not remarry, these seniors may live with their 2nd life partner for 5, 10, 20, 30 + years.

Now, let's all be honest... how much do you know about your mother/father that lives out of state? Do you know how often they see their doctor?

Do you know what medications they take? Do you know if their diabetes is under control?

Most likely, you don't know the answers to those questions. It's because you live far away, and you have your own obligations and responsibilities in your own home. Your kids, your work, your spouse... the list goes on and on.

These life partners- whether gay, straight, old or young know all the answers to those questions. They know their partners, because... they are emotionally married and emotionally committed. What gives government the right to judge WHO should be ALLOWED to be considered "married". Since when does a piece of paper symbolize MORE than years and years and years of togetherness can symbolize?

I'm deeply saddened by the conservatives who preach about "less government"... but then want to micromanage my home and the homes of millions of Floridians.


Paulina Testerman
Sarasota, FL