MARRIAGE DIGEST: Fla. high court appears OK with marriage amendment; Idaho proposal passes state House
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP)--Having failed to place a state constitutional marriage amendment on the ballot in Florida this year, supporters of such a proposal appear to be gaining momentum in their effort to put it on the ballot in 2008.
The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments Feb. 8 in a request by the American Civil Liberties Union to keep the proposed amendment off the '08 ballot. But according to the Associated Press, the justices seemed to disagree with the ACLU's argument that the amendment violates the state Constitution by covering more than one subject. The amendment would ban both "gay marriage" and Vermont-style civil unions.
"I'm having trouble seeing where the single-subject violation is despite your excellent advocacy," Chief Justice Barbara Pariente told the ACLU lawyer, according to AP.
A victory would be significant for amendment supporters, who failed to collect the necessary 611,000 signatures by a Feb. 1 deadline, instead gathering 456,000. On Feb. 8, the group supporting the amendment, Florida4Marriage.org, announced a "155,000 signatures in 155 days" campaign, with the goal of collecting the remainder of the signatures required for qualifying the amendment for 2008.
Mathew Staver, president of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel, represented Florida4Marriage.org.
"While most initiatives create something new, the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment protects something old," Staver said in a statement. "It does not change existing law. It preserves the status quo. The status quo is marriage. The single purpose of the amendment is to protect marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman."
The amendment would protect the traditional definition of marriage and prevent any state court from legalizing "gay marriage." Massachusetts' highest court issued a ruling in 2003 redefining marriage to include homosexuals. That state has no marriage amendment.
AMENDMENT PASSES IDAHO HOUSE -- The Idaho House of Representatives passed a state constitutional marriage amendment by a vote of 53-17 Feb. 6, sending it to the state Senate, where it fell short of passage last year. A Senate committee approved the amendment by a vote of 5-4 on Feb. 10, according to KTVB-TV in Boise.
The amendment requires the passage of two-thirds of the members in each chamber. If the Senate adopts it, the amendment would go on the November ballot.
"You cannot make people moral by legislation. But all of our social laws are legislated morality," state Rep. Lawerence Denney, a Republican and amendment supporter, said during floor debate, according to the Idaho Statesman. "Laws against murder and rape, robbery and incest, are all social laws. These laws are boundaries that we as a society say must not be crossed.
"If we don't set boundaries, and let everyone do what is right in their own eyes, we lose our entire structure; we have chaos."
LESBIAN ARMY 'WEDDING' -- In another example of the cultural divide between the U.S. and Europe, a lesbian couple in the British Army has "wed" under the country's new civil partnership law. Although "gay marriage" technically is not legal in Great Britain, the new law provides homosexual couples with the legal benefits of marriage.
It was the first homosexual "wedding" within the British Army, which allows homosexuals to serve openly. United States policy prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military.
For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage