Florida Republican Party committed to stopping Gay Marriage by Mitch E. Perry

02/24/06

Determined to get a gay marriage ban on the ballot for Florida voters, the state Republican Party has now doubled its initial investment in the effort to $300,000. That’s despite the fact that such a measure will NOT appear on this year’s ballot.

The ST. Petersburg Times reported today that State Senate President Tom Lee said the additional $150,000 came after Florida4marriage.org, the political committee working to amend the state Constitution, failed to get enough signatures in time to qualify for the 2006 ballot.

Senator Lee, running for the GOP nomination for CFO this year, told the Times that he embraced the extra $150,000 donation because Florida4Marriage still wants to get the measure on the ballot in 2008. He said, “"I supported it because I know it's an important issue to Republicans. I know it may not be more important than tax cuts, it may not be more important than property rights or whatever, but it is an element, just as the sanctity of life issues are an element of importance of our party," .

State Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski looks at the issue a bit differently (roll tape#1 o.q.�small class size reduction�)

Gay rights advocates applauded when Florida4marriage.org announced earlier this month that they had failed to get the required number of signatures to submit to the Secretary of state’s office to get such a ballot measure on this fall’s ballot.

But supporters of the amendment say it’s only a momentary pause – and say they will continue to collect enough signatures to bring the issue back before the voters in the November 2004 election.

Last week, on Valentine’s Day, the International Marriage Equality Protest was held around the world, and in Tampa. The Reverend Phyllis Hunt is Senior Pastor at the Metropolitian Community Church in Tampa. (roll tape#2 o.q.�same sex couples�) Hunt says she later married the 4 couples in a religious ceremony.

Discussing the battle to fight against a ban on same sex marriages should be part of the discussion in Tampa tomorrow when the Winter Pride Tampa Bay event is held at Lowry Park in Tampa.

On November 2nd, 2004, voters in 11 states approved constitutional amendments codifying marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.

But there is a group – not just consisting of gays – that is fighting to work towards allowing same sex marriages in the Country. <p.

Christina Chavez is the granddaughter of the late Farmworker organizer, Cesar Chavez, and is a member of the group Freedom to Marry, an organization that brings gay and NON gay advocates together to support what they call marriage equality..

Even with the failure of the campaign to get a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot this fall banning same sex marriage in Florida, fighting FOR gay marriage would appear to be a losing battle politically, at least right now. But Chavez thinks differently (roll tape#3 o.q.� at the ballot box�)

That’s Christina Chavez, now running for State Assembly in California this fall. For more information on the group she’s aligned with, go to the web at freedomtomarry.org….For more information on the group trying to ban same sex marriage in Florida, go to Florida4marriage.org …

By many accounts the marriage amendment stands to mobilize religious conservatives who would likely vote Republican. Lee is running for chief financial officer but said that has nothing to do with his supporting the party financing the effort. Campaign finance reports revealed in January that that state party contributed $150,000 of the $193,000 donated to the "marriage protection" ballot initiative. The second contribution confirmed by Lee Monday has not yet shown up in public records. Gov. Jeb Bush has argued the amendment isn't necessary because Florida law already bars same-sex marriage, and said in January he was unaware of the party contribution. Lee said he assumed other party leaders signed off on the checks just as he did.

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