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Fla. could learn from Conn.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following column first appeared in the Florida Baptist Witness and is directed toward Floridians, but is being reprinted in Baptist Press because of the nationwide implication of votes on marriage amendments in Florida, California and Arizona.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Floridians, when you cast your ballot on the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment this year, look at Massachusetts, California — and now Connecticut.

Contrary to claims of the liars attempting to scare Floridians into voting against the marriage amendment because of the false assertions that the measure is about everything other than marriage, the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling Oct. 10 legalizing “gay marriage” is the latest reminder of why we need Amendment 2.

This is not an academic, esoteric debate. The Florida marriage amendment (also known as Amendment 2) is Floridians’ chance to settle the definition of marriage in our state before a few judges decide it otherwise.

The Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling is a reminder — at the expense of marriage in that state — of what’s really at stake in Amendment 2.

“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote in the majority opinion that overturned a lower court finding. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

Literally on the basis of one judge’s decision — the difference in the Connecticut 4-3 ruling — “gay marriage” is now required in that state, as it is now occurring in California and Massachusetts (both of which also changed the definition of marriage by the margin of one judge’s vote). We’re fooling ourselves to believe the same thing could not happen in our state at some point in the future.

The Florida marriage amendment represents the historic definition of marriage and is similar to state constitutional amendments adopted in 27 other states in recent years. The text of the amendment says, “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.”

The homosexual lobby, however, is bombarding the state with false advertisements claiming Amendment 2 will invalidate domestic partnerships and deny benefits to seniors. Florida Red & Blue, a group opposing the marriage amendment, launched a $1-million ad buy on network and cable television in Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale-Miami and Naples-Fort Myers, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The ads distort the truth about Amendment 2, seeking to overcome support for the marriage amendment by deceiving voters.

According to several news accounts, a new poll of 625 likely voters released Oct. 8 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research found 55 percent in favor, 34 percent opposed and 11 percent undecided regarding Amendment 2. The poll has a 4-point margin of error. Constitutional amendments in Florida must receive 60 percent support for passage. Brad Coker, managing director for the poll, said undecided voters “have generally broken strongly in the direction of the ‘politically incorrect/anti-gay’ position,” according to the Pensacola News Journal.

It’s those undecided voters that are the target of the deceitful advertising by opponents of the marriage amendment. Without the deep pockets of the homosexual lobby, supporters of marriage must rely on grassroots activism to overcome the distortions. Yes2Marriage.org, the coalition formed to back Amendment 2, is desperately seeking volunteers across the state to work on behalf of the passage of this vital measure. Every Florida Baptist church and pastor has a vital role to play in educating and mobilizing their congregations to pass Amendment 2. Such activity does not jeopardize the church’s tax exempt status. (For more on this matter, check out the Liberty Counsel’s legal advice to pastors, available at: www.lc.org)

Amendment 2 is about marriage and only marriage. The Florida Supreme Court — no bastion of conservative jurisprudence — affirmed the amendment satisfied the “single subject rule.” The court found, “The voter is merely being asked to vote on the singular subject of whether the concept of marriage and the rights and obligations traditionally embodied therein should be limited to the union of one man and one woman. The plain language of the proposed amendment is clear that the legal union of a same-sex couple that is not the ‘substantial equivalent’ of marriage is not within the ambit of this constitutional provision.”

Having removed three other proposed amendments from this year’s ballot, there is no reason to doubt that the Florida Supreme Court would have done the same with the Florida marriage amendment if there was any chance it’s about anything other than marriage. That the court permitted the marriage amendment to stay on the ballot is all the evidence needed to undermine the fabrications of opponents.

Therefore, Amendment 2 is not about domestic partnerships, denying benefits to seniors or civil rights. It’s about marriage. This measure merely takes the definition of marriage — one man and one woman — from our state law and enshrines in our state constitution, preventing judges in the future from redefining marriage in our state.

For those who doubt it’s necessary to protect the definition of marriage in the state constitution, one need only look to the “gay marriages” being performed today in California and Massachusetts — with Connecticut soon to follow — because a few judges created the “right” to “gay marriage.” The ramifications of these decisions can be seen in Massachusetts where children are being indoctrinated with homosexual propaganda in public schools — even against the wishes of parents — because the state is now required to allow “gay marriage.”

For the sake of the well-being of our society, our children, and our children’s children, do all you can to support the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment.
James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, online at www.FloridaBaptistWitness.com, where this column first appeared. To learn more about the Florida marriage amendment and how you can help it pass, visit Yes2Marriage.org.

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  • James A. Smith
  • James A. Smith, Sr.
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