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Group led by Vanessa Brito seeks to put gay marriage back on Florida's ballot in Nov. 2014

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Miami political consultant Vanessa Brito, who successfully ran the 2011 campaign to recall Miami-Dade Commissioner Natacha Seijas, today will file paperwork to put marriage equality back on the Florida ballot in 2014.

equal marriageThe petition seeks to change Florida's definition of marriage from "one man and one woman, as husband and wife" to "a union of two persons," according to Brito, a lesbian activist and co-chair of Equal Marriage Florida, a new political action committee.

"We submit the petition today and the state has seven days to approve the language for a proposed referendum," said Brito, also a board member of Unity Coalition.

The group's initial goal: 68,351 signatures by Aug. 1.

Brito says her group will gather signatures from Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties "through and into the I-4 corridor."

If Equal Marriage Florida gathers enough names, it will have until Feb. 1 to get 681,000 signatures. "Our goal is to get a million signatures, because obviously not all will be valid," Brito said.

Equal Marriage Florida hopes to raise and spend $6 million for the petition drive, she said.

If all goes as planned, a statewide referendum would be held November 2014.

Five years ago, just under 62 percent of Florida voters passed Amendment 2, which defined marriage as a union only between one man and one woman, and also banned civil unions. Sixty percent of Florida voters would need to repeal the constitutional ban.

Earlier this week, Equality Florida, the state's largest gay-rights organization, and the national Freedom to Marry group announced an unrelated educational campaign about marriage equality in Florida.

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, said earlier this week it was too soon to determine whether her group would attempt to repeal Amendment 2 at the polls in 2014.

"When we look around the country and we see where we have succeeded in securing marriage equality, all of those campaigns, whether they were at the ballot or through the legislature, began with shifting public opinion. And that’s the heart of this campaign, where everyday Floridians, celebrities, elected leaders, all stand up and make their support absolutely clear," Smith said.

The campaign can be won, but only if Libertarians and moderate Republicans are on board, Brito said. Gary Johnson, Republican governor of New Mexico from 1994-2003 and a Libertarian presidential candidate in 2012, is Equal Marriage Florida's honorary co-chair.

Brito said her campaign will also focus on younger voters.

"It’s our generation, the people in their 30s, the voters in their 30s," she said.

Brito believes that many conservative voters quietly support marriage equality.

"What are the two most personal things a person does? Who they pray to and who they sleep with," Brito said. "There’s something to be said about what happens in the ballot box in private."



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Trying to put this on the 2014 ballot is political suicide. Off year elections are notorious for lower voter turnout by the groups that are more likely to support such an amendment.

The 2014 electorate will be more heavily weighted with older, white conservative voters.

Sign me up !

Getting young voters to turn out in 2014 may be a problem. The issue has a better shot on the 2016 ballot, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.


I am amazed how some individuals just love to spew hate and disinformation. I am equally amazed how these same individuals can so shameless disrespect and hate the will of the people of Florida democratically expressed at the ballot box in a fair, reasoned, open and democratic vote. Floridians already overwhelmingly and democratically voted for Marriage Equality when they approved the Florida Marriage Equality Amendment in 2008.

In Florida, everyone has an EQUAL right to get married under the same, objective, EQUAL terms and conditions as EVERYONE else. Because this same, objective, EQUAL criterion applies EQUALLY to everyone in Florida, it is completely false to assert that there is any discrimination whatsoever.

When will they stop agitating, and find time to understand that they simply do not have the right to invent their own subjective, private, unequal definition of Marriage, nor their own subjective, private, unequal definition of Equality, nor their own subjective, private, unequal definition of Male or Female? When will some people stop the hate and find time to respect the will of Florida’s people???

By Dr. (?) Meissner’s logic, there was no need for the US Supreme Court to strike down all state bans on interracial marriage through the Loving v. Virginia decision. After all — and this was actually argued at the time — all whites were free to get married, and all blacks were free to get married, they just all had to marry someone of the same race — just as in Dr. Meissner’s view straights can all get married, and gays can all get married, they just all have to marry someone of the opposite sex!

Unfortunately for Dr. Meissner, the US Supreme Court rejected that reasoning as to race, and that the right not just to get married but to get married to the partner of one’s choice, regardless of race, was as fundamental a civil and human right as there is. And we’re on track for that same reasoning to be applied by the Supreme Court to same-sex couples too.

So Dr. Meissner, enjoy this time period, because after that now-inevitable Supreme Court ruling extending the Loving decision to same-sex couples nationwide, your children and grandchildren will view your opinions from this era in the same way as the children and grandchildren of white racists who opposed interracial marriage now view *them*.

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