Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

Saturday, September 20, 2008

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.