Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

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.