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Proposed Florida ban on gay marriage sparks debate

By BILL COTTERELL, Tallahassee Democrat

The main sponsor of a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage said Wednesday all "aberrant forms of marriage" might become legal unless Florida voters adopt his proposal at the polls next November.

But the former head of the National Organization for Women argued that the state already has laws recognizing only heterosexual unions — and warned that the pending change would jeopardize rights of tens of thousands of unmarried couples, gay and straight.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, and Miami attorney Patricia Ireland, representing anti-amendment group Florida Red and Blue, debated Amendment 2 at a luncheon of the Capital Tiger Bay Club. Stemberger's Florida4Marriage.org group succeeded Feb. 1 in getting more than 600,000 voter signatures to qualify the gay-marriage ban for a statewide referendum.

"This is not the end game. There are many people who want to bring their aberrant forms of marriage to the table, and once you open the door, there's really no end to it," he said. "If marriage means anything, then marriage means nothing."

Stemberger said "logic, biology, tradition and common sense" dictate that marriage is not for homosexuals.

He further cited law-review articles and statements by proponents of polygamy and group marriage who claim there is no legal reason to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

"These are not crazies," he said. "These folks are where homosexual activists were 25 years ago. The problem is, when you unlock that door, there's really no end to the argument of where we're going to define marriage."

Ireland noted that Stemberger's amendment bans any "other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof." Ireland said no one knows what "substantial equivalent" means.

"We do know that if Amendment 2 passes, someone is going to be down the next day at the courthouse, filing a lawsuit saying domestic-partner benefits are treating people who receive them as if they were married, in terms of sharing their health care, or retirement benefits or making medical decisions," she said.

After the hour-long debate, a straw ballot of the audience indicated 45 listeners opposed to putting the gay-marriage ban in the constitution, 12 favored it and two checked "could go either way" on the issue.


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Gay Marriage Ban-Life Imitating Animated Art?

Upon hearing of the numerous constitutional amendments to ban same-sex-marriages being proposed in states from California to Florida, I am reminded of an episode of the Emmy winning animated television series Family Guy that I recently saw. The similarities between the show and the looming battle over basic civil rights are numerous and hilarious

In the episode I caught on local Miami FOX 7, Quahog, Rhode Island Mayor Adam West (voiced by the real Adam West of the old Batman series) tries to ban gay marriage to divert attention from a bad investment he made with the taxpayers’ money. This motivates one of the main characters, Brian, to fight for the right of his cousin Jasper to marry boyfriend Ricardo.

As Brian goes door to door to find support for gay marriage, Chris, another central character on the show, is promised by a young Republican girl that he can touch her boobs if Chris can thwart Brian’s efforts. Lois Griffin, another of the show’s primary players, proclaims she has not personal animosity against gays by saying, “I don’t have anything against homosexuals. I’ll watch almost anything David Schwimmer is in!” But her religious upbringing causes her inner turmoil about the gay marriage issue.

With the show’s trademark crude and boorish humor and groan-inducing double entendres and innuendoes, the show’s creator Seth MacFarlane and his writers demonstrate the hypocrisy of those who insist on forcing their religious values down the throats of society, while trying to sweep their own vices under the proverbial rug. The episode was also funny as hell!

As far as the Florida effort goes, the push to embed the state’s already existing legal ban against gay marriage in our state constitution is not about protecting the family or the sanctity of marriage. There’s absolutely nothing more that any same-sex loving homo couple could possibly do to destroy their precious institution than the damage already wrought by straight, foot tapping, Republican Senators, drug addicted pop tart moms and male escort hiring preachers.

Including a gay marriage ban on the November ballot is simply a blatant attempt to stir up the Bible thumping zealots and get them to the polls. Though very few right wingers are excited about touching Senator McCain’s boobs, there’s nothing better than a good old ‘bash the queer’ effort to drive the faithful to the ballot box! A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll in November, 2007, revealed that 77 percent of likely Republican voters in Florida opposed making same-sex marriage legal…and there you have it.

Back to Family Guy…there were many memorable quotes in this particular episode (Originally aired April 30, 2006). The statement that resonated with me was voiced by Peter Griffin, the character the show revolves around. In response to his wife Lois’ concerns about gay marriage, Peter exclaims, “What’s wrong with gay marriage? I say let them get married and be miserable like the rest of us!” I’ll admit that I’m a little indifferent on the issue of gay marriage. I don’t ever see myself getting ‘hitched’, even if the U.S. Constitution guaranteed us that right. I don’t need the blessings of the church nor the state to decide who I love. .

But I do have a clear understanding of the ramifications of including in the state constitution an amendment that would define marriage exclusively as between “only one man and one woman.” Not only would this law discriminate against homosexuals but it would also deny rights to unmarried heterosexual couples, depriving them of sharing benefits such as health insurance.

But paramount in the whole controversy is the fact that, if this amendment passes, Florida’s constitution will be used to discriminate against a whole class of innocent citizens. With the passage of this amendment the Sunshine State would join 27 others that have chosen to diminish human rights rather than expand them!

In the end, Brian prevails and Mayor West backs down. Lois is enlightened and agrees to hold the wedding at her home. Chris doesn’t get to feel up the Young Republican chick, but Jasper does marry Ricardo and everyone lives happily ever after… as far as we know. We can only hope that life DOES imitate animated art this November.

David L. Wylie
Senior Editor

This American will NEVER be able to pay a dime in taxes until I have EQUAL Marriage Rights. To expect me to pay anything is both unfair and immoral.

John you forgot to mention that you are homeless and destitute.

Well, Ron, I used to be, but thanks for caring. :-)

But now I'm still trying to work, still broke, and still coping with the PTSD that is preventing me from working consistently. I wonder how many other gay men and lesbians are on welfare as a result of Marriage Inequality? Do heterosexuals care that they are paying out of their pockets for this discrimination?

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