Florida and California. Both are big. Both have sunshine and beaches and “beautiful people” and lots and lots of transplants from other parts of the country.
And both states have a proposed Constitutional amendment on their ballot to define marriage. Or, more accurately, to exclude a group of people (namely LGBT people) from the institution of marriage and prevent them from receiving the piece of paper from the state that recognizes their union to their beloved.
You may remember that California’s ballot initiative became a reality after the state Supreme Court found no grounds for denying marriage licenses to LGBT couples.
In Florida, Amendment Two has been a long brewing scheme of collecting signatures to place this question before the voters. Initially, we thought it would be on the ballot in 2006, but then the proponents decided to take their time…and made sure it was ready in time for the 2008 election. Funny how it happens to also be a presidential election year. What a coincidence!
And what a scary proposition for its potential passage!
If you follow blogs such as SisterFriends-Together or An Inch At A Time, you will see how active the campaign is in California to defeat their Proposition Eight. Why in California, not just individual churches, but the Bishops of several dioceses of the Episcopal Church have been on the forefront speaking out against this amendment and noting its bigotry toward LGBT people. There are those in the Episcopal Church who have countered that the “institution” of marriage is one that comes through the state, and the role of the church is a “blessing” of that union. Proponents of “one-man, one-woman” marriage cite Genesis and the creation of Adam and Eve to promote their ideology as being given to us directly from God. I counter that in that creation story in Genesis, there is no altar, no priest, no paperwork, no bridesmaids, no groomsmen….in other words…Adam and Eve weren’t “married”.
But back to the tale of the two states. As noted, churches in California from the accounts that I am reading have taken an active role in opposing marital bigotry. In Florida, the church remains silent. In fact, lots of groups have remained silent. And when they do speak up, as is the case of the League of Women Voters, they oppose Amendment Two not on the grounds that it will put into the constitution language that currently exists in statute defining marriage and denying it to gay people, but they look for the “how this hurts straight people like the elderly” as their argument. And I can only presume they are attacking Amendment Two on this premise because they figure that’s an easier sell then telling the public it’s wrong to discriminate against gay people.
How sad. How very sad that we can’t acknowledge who is really the target because if we did, it might-what-backfire?
Worse yet, there is a serious chance this amendment will pass in Florida because of the presidential election. There’s the obvious vote of McCain-Palin gun-toting, NASCAR-watching, Joe Six-Packs who supported those in the legislature that voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in the late 90s. And there is an additional issue with Barack Obama, an African-American, on the ballot. In Florida, predominantly black churches are very homophobic. And the black church is one of the biggest political machines in their community. So it appears the proponents of Amendment Two really were smart to hold-off and place the question on the ballot this year.
Obama has also enthused the college-aged voting block, and younger generations appear to be less-inclined to see marriage as something just for straight couples. But will enough of them go to vote to cancel out their parents and grandparents?
In California, the straight Republican Governor has said he doesn’t support Proposition Eight. In Florida, our Republican Governor Charlie Crist has kept a low profile on Amendment Two.
Can we count on Democrats to oppose bigotry? Well, the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lauderdale recently announced his support for Amendment Two. Supposedly, there is Florida Red and Blue, a bipartisan effort to fight the constitutional amendment, but besides one lame mail-out which again kept the “why you should vote NO” message very vague, I have not seen nor heard anything from this group. Fairness for All Families has called our house hundreds of times to ask for money, but not to mobilize against the amendment.
The only glimmer of hope we seem to have in Florida is that Amendment Two will need at least 60-percent approval to pass. Right now, they’re polling at about 55-58 percent in favor.
Perhaps we need a little California chutzpah in the Sunshine State. Or at least the courage to name the bigotry inherent in Amendment Two, and appeal to people’s better selves when they go to vote on November 4th.