MARRIAGE DIGEST: Fla. court clears way for marriage amendment in '08; N.H. House votes down amendment
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP)--Giving a big boost to pro-family groups, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled March 23 that a proposed constitutional marriage amendment can appear on the statewide ballot in 2008 if enough signatures are gathered.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other like-minded groups had argued that the proposed amendment violated the Florida Constitution because it dealt with more than one subject. The groups also said the ballot summary was misleading.
The amendment would protect traditional marriage by banning both "gay marriage" and Vermont-style civil unions.
Justice R. Fred Lewis, writing for the other six justices, said "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 Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage (Florida4Marriage.org) failed to collect enough signatures to place the amendment on the ballot this year, although it likely will gather enough signatures prior to the 2008 election. Needing 611,000 signatures, the amendment has 466,000.
"While most initiatives create something new, the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment protects something old. It does not change existing law," Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver, who defended the amendment before the court, said in a statement. "It preserves the status quo. Very soon the remaining signatures will be certified and the people of Florida will vote to protect traditional marriage. I have no doubt that this marriage amendment will pass by an overwhelming majority. Marriage should be decided by the people, not the courts."
The proposed amendment states: "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.”
Nineteen states have passed similar amendments, and another seven are scheduled to vote on them this year. In their effort to legalize "gay marriage," homosexual activists have targeted states such as Massachusetts, Washington and New Jersey that have no marriage amendment.
AMENDMENT DIES IN N.H. -- The New Hampshire House of Representatives easily defeated a proposed constitutional marriage amendment March 21. Needing a three-fifths vote, the amendment did not get even a majority, losing on a 207-125 vote, the Associated Press reported.
According to AP, state Rep. Michael Balboni, a Republican, said the amendment should be passed "if you believe as I believe that no governmental body should redefine what has been mankind's definition of the marital union for thousands of years ... that four unelected individuals in the state of Massachusetts usurped legislative authority and took it upon themselves to unilaterally redefine marriage for the millions living in that state."
Although marriage amendments have passed in nearly every region of the country, conservatives haven't made much progress in the northeast. The lone exception may be in Massachusetts, where a drive to place an amendment on the ballot in 2008 gained enough signatures. That amendment now needs the approval of one-fourth of the Massachusetts legislature in two consecutive sessions.
For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage