September 13, 2007 | Editorial
Proposed gay marriage amendment lacks rationale
Floridians have had enough of divisive politics over recent years ---- yet that never seems to stop people who have an ax to grind and plenty of money to force discussion.
As of last week, it seems likely that supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will get their issue on next year's ballot. Florida4Marriage.org, the group behind the proposal, has raised more than $500,000 (and spent most of that on direct-mail campaigns) and should have the required signatures by Feb. 1. But the group has yet to make its case for altering Florida's Constitution to defend against something that's already banned by state law. As worded, the amendment could also affect the rights of unmarried, heterosexual couples -- by saying that "no other legal union" can be accorded any of the rights of marriage.
Nor can the group provide rationale for the substance of their proposed amendment. Allowing gay and lesbian couples to form legally recognized bonds poses no threat to society. To the contrary -- it introduces the same stabilizing force that marriage provides for heterosexual marriages, along with the same legal protections. Under current law, homosexual couples lack the most basic rights, including the ability to stay by a sick partner's hospital bedside or negotiate custody of children.
Society is already recognizing the need to change. Many employers now grant insurance benefits to committed same-sex partners, and many states are including sexual orientation in the list of legally prohibited bases for discrimination.
Florida should move forward, though it would take action on the part of state lawmakers to make that forward step reality. This amendment, if approved by voters, would force the state in the other direction -- backwards, to a time when discrimination was not just allowed, but mandatory.