A Letter to the Editor from Zeke Fread, director of Pride Tampa Bay:
Educating Voters About Amendment 2
I proudly serve on the VoteNoOn2 Campaign Steering Committee for Tampa Bay. I also volunteer at the polls, for phone banking, speaking engagements and never leave my home without wearing a VoteNoO2 T-Shirt. I can attest to the fact, the majority of Floridians do not understand the vague and ambivalent language of Amendment 2. I see this on a daily basis, as people approach me at the supermarket, drug store or on the street and ask what exactly what does Amendment 2 mean. The same applies to voters I encounter at early voting polls and those I speak with on the phone. When I explain Florida has three existing laws and 1997 Defense of Marriage Act, that same-gender marriage is and remain illegal in the state, whether the Amendment 2 passes or fails. They all ask the same question, "then why do we need to add this to our constriction."
Sadly I find many are simply blindly following their churches edict to yes vote on Amendment 2, without questioning why. However, when given the opportunity, I read the Amendments language verbatim, including its vague language, "no Other Legal Union" that is Treated as Marriage or the "Substantial Equivalent Thereof", Shall be Valid or Recognized. I ask do you know what this means, and they have no idea. When I explain it will open the door to stripping away the few domestic partners benefits and rights from heterosexual and same-gender unmarried couples, with the majority being heterosexual senior citizens, police, firefighters, city employee and many others. They unequivocally agree this is wrong and had no idea it would adversely effected anyone's domestic partners benefits and rights. To the few who disagree, I suggest they do their research and will find that Michigan citizens found this out the hard way. They were vehemently assured, just as we're being by Mr. Stemberger and the YesOn2 supporters, Florida's Amendment 2 will not adversely effect or take away domestic partnerships in any way. Even though polls showed 78% of Michigan voters did not want anyone to lose domestic partners benefits and rights. They took their Amendments supporters at their word, foolishly voted and passed a similar worded Amendment, although not as vaguely worded as Florida. A Christian legal group from another state, filed a friend of the court brief claiming domestic partners benefits were "marriage like" or in our case "the Substantial Equivalent Thereof", Michigan's appeals court conceded and repealed them. Which left Michigan's unmarried heterosexual and gay couples registered as domestic partners with their benefits stripped away.
An educated voter makes educated decisions when they cast their vote. Floridians must educate themselves when considering voting on Amendment 2. Ask yourself one question, do you want to be responsible for or dare take a chance that our senior citizens, police, firefighters, city employees and many others, will suffer the same devastating financial loss as Michigan's citizens. I can only hope and pray your answer is absolutely not.
Don't be misled, Amendment 2 will strip away domestic partners benefits and rights from Floridians. As well as enshrine a particular religious groups beliefs into our states constitution. Which is intended to preserve and guarantee rights, never be used to deny or take rights away. The principle of Separation of Church and State shouldn't allow for one particular religion to dictate laws and rights on all other citizens. Please vote to protect and preserve benefits the rights of all Floridians, VOTE NO ON 2!
R. Zeke Fread
Director Pride Tampa Bay A Proud Coalition Member of FFAF - VoteNoOn2 Campaign
Fairness For All Families - Vote NoOn2 Campaign Tampa Bay Steering Committee