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June 25, 2007

Florida Marriage Amendment

The 2008 election cycle promises to be nothing short of electric in Florida.  With the presidential election as well as, as of last week, a vote on a Florida constitutional amendment to give even more tax relief the political machine will be firing on all cylinders.  Add to that yet another vote which promises to be one of, if not the most hotly contested issue; the Florida Marriage Amendment. 

The amendment needs only 21,000 more signatures before February 1, 2008 and it will be on the November 2008 ballot.  Easy.

Anticipating the battle to come, the opposition is already gearing up and Equality Florida is calling on bloggers to enter the fray.  As is typical of the enemies of traditional marriage, even this initial call to arms ignores the truth in an effort to paint a picture of a nation moving towards the warm embrace of same sex marriage.  This is, of course, does not accurately reflect reality.

For regulars here at PEER Review, much of this will be a review.  We've covered this topic in detail, but Florida's liberals obviously need a refresher course.

Change in Tallahassee has the call from the opposition spearhead, Equality Florida, to liberal bloggers to rally to the defense of same sex marriage.  Smashed Frog has the review.

Time to dive in: the opponents of the Florida Marriage Amendment are skewing the facts.

"We Can Win in Florida. Not only is the country trending our way, the 2006 election cycle delivered the first defeat in AZ. Just as significantly, 5 other states including ultra conservative Virginia saw more than 40% of it voters reject the amendment. In South Dakota, 48% rejected the measure. 

Let's talk about the "trend" across the country.  28 states have voted on a same sex marriage amendment.  27 have passed it with Arizona being the only state to narrowly vote it down.   Here's what this trend looks like:

Marriageamendment1_2















On top of that, 41 states have statutes protecting marriage.  Here is what this trend looks like:

Stateswithstatutes1















Know how many states don't have either an amendment or a statute protecting marriage?  Six. 

The truth of the matter is that the "trends" show incredible support for the idea of preserving traditional marriage.  Even here in Florida.  In fact, Equality Florida's own poll shows overwhelming support for preserving marriage.

I will agree, however, that this is certainly a fight that the opponents of the amendment can win.  Why?  Because the amendment will require 60% approval.  The polls indicate that support for the amendment is hovering at around 60%.  It will be close; very close.  Which is why it is absolutely necessary for Conservatives and proponents of traditional marriage to encourage their friends and family to vote their conscience.

Opponents of the amendment have and will continue to engage in a campaign of belittling the views of traditionalists here in Florida.  Remember when you are told that your views are antiquated that the majority of states disagree, as do the majority of Floridians.  Stand strong by your convictions and this will be a battle that true marriage wins.

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"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."


Aside from the wording of the amendment being of concern to me (I am strongly opposed to marriage licenses), I do have some other reservations and concerns.

Living in Pensacola, I have realized that Florida has made amendments out of things that should not be. One example would be the amendment that said Florida had to build and maintain a railroad. I think the state constitution should be kept simple, and perhaps limited to procedures rather than forcing a pet project into existence. As such, I am wary about voting for any amendment to the constitution.

I am uncomfortable with the state defining marriage. I believe it is God that has already defined marriage, and the Church's responsibility to tell everyone what that definition is. I do not want to set a precedent that the state can be the definer of marriage. Looking at the numbers shows that if the amendment passes, it will pass by a slim amount. That means, in a few years, this decision can be overturned, or replaced by another amendment that can redefine a marriage to include gay and lesbian couples. And churches will not be able to discriminate against who they can marry.

The homosexual community has an incentive right now to redefine marriage: Gay marriages are outlawed. A couple cannot get a marriage license if they are gay. They want benefits that come from saying they are married. I feel this amendment may give them a greater incentive to fight harder to force us to accept sodomy as an "alternative lifestyle,"

It does not deal with the root cause. The current drive to force the recognition of gay marriage is not the problem, but a symptom of the problem. The church is supposed to be the salt of the earth, and it does not do this by saying that sin is banned from the country. This is a heart issue, and Dr. Baldwin states it best:
Christians and ministers today have developed the attitude that somehow the federal government is supposed to enforce by law what only the Spirit of God can enforce through grace.

I think this can apply to the state government also.

Christians have been duped into thinking that this is going to help "protect" and "save" marriage. This amendment will not, and it cannot. That is up to the Church to do. If this amendment is passed, and a gay couple decides to be a gay couple together, they will still be a gay couple together. Only the Church can protect marriage as defined by God, not a secular government that we force into the position of "spiritual leader."


Ideas of solutions:

Rewrite the amendment so that it is more specific. I would be more inclined to vote for it if it did not define marriage, but simply banned gay marriage. Come on, even just a statement giving credit to the creator of marriage for defining it so that legally, it is not the definition of the state, but of God will make me more inclined to vote for it.

Create a new amendment: One that states that the Florida government will not be involved in marriage. I like this idea best (and quite a few others, surprisingly) because I do not have to ask the Florida government for permission to do something God said I can. As a side note, I will not.
Provisions I would like include no mandated benefits, no involvement in family life and discipline and the banning of marriage licenses and permits.

Abbie,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It seems that we have at least a foundational agreement as to what marriage is and the difference between marriage as recognized by a government and as recognized by God. I've heard a number of the concerns you've raised before; let me attempt to respond for both you and anyone else who shares your concerns.

I would suggest that government must have its own definition for marriage? Why? Because government grants benefits for marriage. Government does this because we want as a society to encourage and support the traditional family unit; that unit which provides the most stable foundation for a healthy society.

Now we can debate whether or not Government should grant benefits for marriage, but that is another debate for another time. The fact is that our governments, both state and federal, grant rights currently to encourage marriage. So the definition of marriage becomes important. What family unit does government encourage?

I agree with you that God has defined marriage. As a believer, this adds a deeper understanding of the principles at play. For us it is no surprise that traditional marriage is such a stable building block for society because we recognize that it is ordained by God.

But Amendment 2 is not attempting to replace God's definition, it is simply answering the question of what family structure will Government support and encourage? It is a question of how Government should operate.

Certainly, homosexuals will not be prohibited from holding their own marriage ceremonies and making whatever commitments they like even if the Amendment passes. However, those unions will not be encouraged by the state.

I agree that this amendment will not "save" marriage. With divorce rates skyrocketing we can agree that marriage is in perils. But consider that is homosexual marriage becomes the norm, encouraged by government, marriage in our nation will certainly be lost. This won't save marriage, but it will protect it from at least this wave of attack.

I agree that the amendment could be overturned by another amendment down the road, but we have to face the issue as it stands before us today. Would the passage of the amendment inspire homosexuals to fight harder? Perhaps, but make no mistake that they are doing just about everything in their power to fight already, and should the Amendment fail, it will be hailed as a major victory of their cause. 28 states have passed similar amendments, a MAJORITY, but the only one we hear the most about is Arizona where it failed.

Also, I would suggest that if the Amendment were overturned that churches would not be forced to perform homosexual marriage. Just as if the amendment passes, churches will not be prohibited from performing homosexual marriages if they like, those unions simply won't be recognized by the state. We haven't fallen that far just yet.

I share your hesitation about constantly adding to our state constitution. However, we need this one, because as we have seen across the country and even in our own state, activist judges are anxious to snatch any opportunity to use their judicial authority to attack state Defense of Marriage Acts which are part of state law. By placing this definition in the State Constitution, we will place marriage beyond the hands of such judges.

I would encourage you, Abbie, you don't need to feel as though this amendment attempting to usurp or replace the authority of God. That is certainly not the intent. The Amendment simply attempts to answer a question that is relevant to our time; what family structure will Government benefits flow to? When we answer married couples, the question becomes, how do we define marriage. That is the role the Amendment fills.

As for your point of simplifying to ban gay marriage, I would suggest that the purpose of defining marriage as opposing to prohibiting recognition of one type of union is that there are any number of other non-traditional unions which will be addressed. We live in times where many support an "anything goes" approach to marriage and advocate that Government should support their particular preferences, whether that be homosexuality, polygamy, etc. By defining marriage as one man and one woman, we need not create a laundry list of unions not recognized by the state, and we simply state what is supported. I would suggest that defining marriage in this manner is the most simple method to achieve our goal.

We're also too late in the game to change the Amendment, this is the version which gained tremendous support through the ballot petition process, and it is the version which was approved by the Florida Supreme Court. There is no going back now.

Abbie, I hope this can put your mind at ease as to at least some of your concerns with the Amendment and that on election day you will cast your vote in support of Amendment 2.

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