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Court’s same-sex marriage rulings heighten focus on Florida ban

by John Kennedy | June 26th, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings Wednesday expanding gay rights brought a swift reaction in Florida, with some saying the decisions now turn the focus on Tallahassee and the state’s own 2008 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

“As Democrats, we are committed to full equality for every American,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant. “Today, the Supreme Court moved us further toward that goal. All married couples will now enjoy the federal benefits and protections they have been wrongfully denied for years.”

She added, “There is still a long road ahead before we achieve full equality for GLBT Americans, and here in Florida we stand committed to continue this fight.”

A gay rights advocacy organization, Equality Florida, last week unveiled a statewide campaign called “Get Engaged,” ultimately aimed at ending the state’s constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage.

Advocates said a ballot proposal to repeal Florida’s constitutional amendment is not planned for next year. But eliminating the ban enacted by 62 percent of Florida voters in 2008 would be a goal of the education campaign.

“Today’s rulings are a major step forward for the country, but for Floridians they fall far short of justice and are more than anything a call to action,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida.

“For those of us who live in state’s like Florida where our marriages are still not recognized, today’s rulings are a reminder that we cannot wait for justice to be handed to us, we are going to have to get engaged and fight,” she added.

Getting a voter-backed repeal effort on the ballot in Florida would not be easy, with more than 600,000 signatures needed for a proposed constitutional amendment.

Although it was only in 2008 that Floridians endorsed the ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, polls indicate the state and the nation’s views on the issue are changing rapidly.

A survey by liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling in March found that 75 percent of Floridians support letting same-sex couples marry or have civil unions. Only 23 percent of those surveyed in Florida opposed any legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.

PPP found the numbers, pro- and con-, varied little between registered Democrats and Republicans. Minnesota, Rhode Island and Delaware this spring brought to 12 the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal.

Florida is among 30 states that have adopted bans, similar to the one justices allowed to remain struck down in California.

“It’s a great day for Americans, and for Floridians,” Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said Wednesday, following the high court rulings.

Sobel proposed legislation last spring allowing for a statewide domestic partnership registry. The measure was noteworthy in that it cleared a Senate committee before failing to advance further.

This spring in Tallahassee saw the state’s first two openly gay legislators take seats in the House, Reps. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, and Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach. But the Republican-controlled House and Senate traditionally has resisted issues endorsed by Florida’s gay and lesbian community.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott supports the same-sex ban. But former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat seen as a likely Scott opponent in next year’s governor’s race, last month endorsed gay marriage – despite signing the 2006 petition for a constitutional ban and reaffirming his opposition in 2008.

“I think for anything to change in Florida, it’s going to have to be a grassroots effort,” Sobel said

Rep. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat whose district contains a large gay population, said she was “in solidarity” with the community.

“The past has shown that equality does not always come quickly, and never cheaply; the forces of justice have often
fought those of prejudice and misunderstanding, and lost,” Stewart said Wednesday. ”But today’s ruling proves that while it is not always a steady or even march toward basic civil rights for millions of Americans, it is surely an inevitable one.”


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11 Responses to “Court’s same-sex marriage rulings heighten focus on Florida ban”

  1. Enough already Says:

    So does this mean no more silly gay pride for equality marches were people seem to think it’s socially acceptable to flaunt around in public like peacocks with feather boas and fake genetalia flapping in the wind?

  2. Repubtallygirl Says:

    FL voters, overwhelmingly, vote to keep marriage between a man and a woman. Period.

  3. ButtCrazy Says:

    This means more anal sex! Whoahoo!!!!

  4. Forgone Conclusion Says:

    It is NOT over until GLBT people have the right to marry NATIONWIDE! This is NOT a states rights issue, it IS a CIVIL RIGHTS issue! Unlike the quest for civil rights for people of color, which by the way, was NEVER put on a ballot for people to decide, the GLBT population will have to go to each and every state in order to get equality because the Supreme Court didn’t have the nerve to make GLBT marriage legal nationwide. Fortunately, people of color didn’t have to do this but the GLBT population will have to do this. Its been a difficult journey down the road to equality but ITS NOT OVER YET! Funny how gays will be able to marry in some states, but not in others. Equality NATIONWIDE! That is the goal!

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