September 22, 2005

Crusaders to ban gay marriage give false testimony

AP Florida News: A group petitioning to add a ban on gay marriage to the Florida Constitution argued Thursday, in papers filed with the Florida Supreme Court, that it would not affect other rights of unmarried and same-sex couples.

Oh, really? The proposed Marriage Protection Amendment 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."

Let the reader decide. Seems clear to me that "marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof" means what it says and says what it means. To argue otherwise is deceitful -- but then bigotry has never been constrained by truth.

And why was the proposal called the "marriage protection amendment" -- in itself deceitful -- since Florida already has a law against same sex marriage? Florida also has laws denying gays and lesbians the right to adopt children, and you can bet your grandma's hope chest that the inclusion of "substantial equivalent" was meant to exclude forever the right to adopt, along with anything else resembling legal safeguards for same-sex couples and their families.

Some Democrats join Republicans against gays

Republicans are obviously using the proposed amendment as ballot bait to bring out their religious base on election day. But not to be outdone, many Democrats in Florida are rushing to join the front lines of the battle against the "homosexual lifestyle."

Here's an opinion offered by a Jacksonville Democrat,
Right Democrat, posted on the discussion board of Florida Politics:

Yes, Florida does already have a law banning same sex marriage. We also have a constitutional amendment which guarantees the right to privacy and might make the law vulnerable to a legal challenge.

As a conservative on most social issues (I am a Democrat primarily because of my philosophy about the role of goverment and economic matters), I am in favor of a federal constitutional amendment which is a long shot. A federal amendment is probably the only way to assure that we don't end up with gay marriage in all 50 states. A federal court recently struck down Nebraska's gay marriage amendment. The Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by Bill Clinton might be invalidated by the courts as unconstitutional.

While my opposition to gay marriage is rooted in personal conviction, I also think there is the potential for Democrats to be hurt by this issue. A large segment of the public does not grasp the nuance when a candidate says he opposes a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage for reasons other than support of gay marriage. In socially conservative areas like North Florida, a candidate who opposes a consitutional amendment will be seen as a shill for the gay rights movement. If it makes the ballot, the amendment will pass by something like a 65 to 35 margin winning probably every county except for possibly Monroe (even liberal counties like Broward are likely to narrowly favor the amendment). Democrats running for statewide office will hand their GOP opponents the perfect wedge issue if they oppose a state constitutional amendment.

We might have a Senator named Castor if she had supported the parental consent on abortion amendment. Castor may have been taking a principled stand, but voters in North Florida saw her as a puppet of Emily's List.
Okie dokie, then. That's the logic coming from a Democrat who's concerned that Democratic candidates are prone to take "principled stands" that may cost them election wins. So, Betty Castor could have won her election by playing the same low-life politics as Republicans like Mel Martinez? For taking a principled stand, she gets slammed by members of her own party? With friends like that....

A few questions for 'Right Democrat' and others who share his mindset

Those opposing legal recognition of same-sex marriage or its substantial equivalent have never been able to explain how giving equal rights to gays and lesbians -- whatever those rights are called -- deprives anyone else of his or her own "personal conviction." Where, for instance, are the proposals to deny straights their choice of marriage partners or to force anyone, gay or straight, into a same-sex marriage?

Perhaps I've missed a big story out of Massachusetts, but indications are that legalized gay marriage has not caused the cancellation of traditional wedding ceremonies, the closing of churches, the breakup of heterosexual families or the abuse of a single child. In fact, Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation -- half the rate of Florida and other states in which legal rights for gays are most vehemently opposed. (Divorce Rates by State)

To people who support anti-gay amendments to the Florida and US constitutions, please try for a few minutes to put yourself into the shoes of your gay brothers and sisters:

What if you knew that you could never, for your entire lifetime, legally marry the person you love, nor could you experience rights granting the substantial equivalent to marriage? You could never have the family security that even a convicted criminal takes for granted? You could never adopt children, even the biological children of your life partner?

What would you do?

Would you live your entire life in shame or denial, with no hope of real happiness or its "substantial equivalent?" Would you accept the "morality" espoused by Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson and George W. Bush over your own humanity, spirituality and life experience? Or would you demand your birthright as an American citizen and human being?

If your answer implies that legal rights and responsibilities should be defined by religious doctrine and personal conviction, are you prepared to see state and national laws enacted to reflect my religious beliefs and personal convictions? Are we ever safe in basing laws for everyone on religious views of some, whether those beliefs are yours or mine? Are we not better served -- even in the practice of religion itself -- by laws derived not from religion or personal prejudice, but from an acceptance of equality and a respect for our differences?

Update from Equality Florida:

"This Sunday, September 25, Florida churches of all denominations will be participating in Marriage Protection Sunday, collecting signatures of people wishing to sign the marriage petition. I am urging everyone reading this column to forward it to friends or loved ones (registered voters) in Florida who will sign their name on this petition."

- Jerry Falwell, September 22, 2005

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