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Anti-Gay Fla. Amendment Looks to Fail as Miami Mayor Comes Out Against It

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Sep 9, 2008
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A new poll shows that a ballot initiative to rewrite the Florida constitution and enshrine anti-gay law does not have enough support to pass muster in Nov.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Miami has come out against the proposed amendment, saying, "I don’t see how this amendment protects anything."

Florida Today.com reported on Sept. 9 that the new poll, conducted by Quinnipac Univeristy in CT, indicates that while 55 percent of FL voters support the anti-gay-family ballot question, that number falls short of the 60 percent margin of approval required by law to pass the measure, known as Amendment 2.

Amendment 2 would enshrine anti-gay discrimination in FL bedrock law by making marriage constitutionally beyond the reach of gay and lesbian families, and reserving matrimony as a heterosexuals-only special right.

Florida Today.com said that a similar poll taken in June had shown stronger support for the family-unfriendly measure.

The Florida Today.com article quoted Quinnipac’s Peter Brown, who said, "The 55 percent level of support for the same-sex marriage ban is a bit surprising given that similar amendments have passed in a dozen states."

Added Brown, "But backers have eight weeks to close that five-point gap by changing some minds and winning over the undecided voters."

A similar amendment failed in 2006 in AZ, where voters rejected it because it might have harmed heterosexual retirees drawing both on the pensions of deceased spouses as well as on domestic partnership benefits provided by their unmarried partners.

Opponents of the FL amendment warn that the broadly-worded measure there could similarly harm straight couples.

Meanwhile, Manny Diaz, the mayor of Miami, denounced the proposed amendment on Sept. 8, rejecting arguments that the measure would protect marriage.

Said Diaz in a release, "I don’t see how this amendment protects anything," reported the Miami Herald’s Steve Rothaus.

Added Diaz, "Even worse, its vague language could actually take away important existing benefits like health care from Floridians."

Diaz has long been an advocate of equality for GLBT Americans, the article noted; Diaz, who serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is among the over 200 social and political leaders and groups, such as The League of Women Voters, Florida’s Professional Firefighters, and the NAACP who stand against Amendment 2, Rothaus observed.

Rothaus, who covers GLBT topics in South Florida, reported that the measure, which takes aim at marriage equality and also at domestic partnerships, without specifying the genders of those included in those partnerships, could being hardship to Floridian retirees.

Moreover, with no fewer than four laws already on the books in FL confining marriage to heterosexuals, the amendment, Rothaus wrote, is "unnecessary and will spark costly litigation in an effort to determine what the amendment really does."

A bipartisan group called Florida Red & Blue has campaigned against the anti-family amendment, and maintains a Web site where further information is available.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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