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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.