Vote No On 2 Campaign's Fan Box

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sarasota Herald Tribune Editorial: Ban on same-sex marriage

Sarasota Herald Tribune

Amendment 2: No
Ban on same-sex marriage does not belong in the state constitution

Published: Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 10, 2008 at 2:50 p.m.

Florida's proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 2 (titled the "Florida Marriage Protection Amendment") should be voted down.

The measure would perpetuate a ban on same-sex marriage, enshrining in the state constitution a legal barrier that excludes an entire class of people from an important, state-sanctioned social institution solely because of their sexual orientation.

Approving this amendment would run counter to the proud U.S. tradition of expanding, not denying, human rights via the Constitution.

A Florida statute already prohibits same-sex marriage. Advocates of No. 2 contend that to protect the ban from being overturned, it should be added to the state constitution. (A constitutional amendment carries more legal weight than a statute.)

A better approach, in our view, is to leave the matter out of the state constitution and allow the issue to evolve. Though most Floridians are said to oppose same-sex marriage, tolerance is growing. Someday, the ban on gay matrimony may seem as archaic and unconstitutional as former prohibitions against interracial relationships.

Another aspect of Amendment 2 has stirred considerable controversy. Opponents charge that the measure could indirectly threaten domestic partnership benefits. Proponents call that claim a bogus scare tactic.

The truth is unclear.

A Florida Supreme Court analysis of the ballot language suggests -- but does not guarantee -- that domestic partnerships would be unaffected.

An important recent ruling in Michigan may portend trouble. In that case, justices concluded that Michigan's gay marriage ban also prohibits public employers from giving health-insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

The wording of Michigan's ban is somewhat broader than Florida's, but the two have similarities (see box).

We won't predict what conclusion Florida courts might reach, but the possibility of litigation seems strong.

Clearly, Floridians value traditional marriage and want to preserve it. But Amendment 2 would be a monument to exclusion and a barrier to tolerance.

We recommend voting NO on Florida Constitutional Amendment No. 2.