Hometown Democracy Amendment supporters stay optimistic

02/01/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The deadline for signatures to be submitted to the Florida Secretary of State’s office to qualify to get amendments on the November ballot has come and gone.

All signatures had to be submitted by 5 p.m. this afternoon. Supporters and opponents of two high profile amendments are waiting to see if they have qualified for the ballot.

Organizers behind a plan to ban same-sex marriage in Florida and to have citizens vote on comprehensive plan changes are both hoping that they will be told on Saturday that they have 611,000 "good" signatures.

Florida Hometown Democracy was written by lawyers Lesley Blackner and Ross Burnaham. Burnaham told WMNF that his group has submitted plenty of signatures to make it on the ballot.

But a critic of the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment is already crowing that it has failed to make the ballot. Barney Bishop is president and CEO with Associated Industries of Florida, a pro business group.

Supporters of both measures learned in January that a mixup in Miami Dade County had led to a loss of signatures for both movements – jeopardizing the possibility of them making it onto the November ballot.

In the case of the Hometown Democracy Amendment, powerful business interests, led by Associated Industries, have put on a full-court press to throttle it from ever making the ballot. That included exploiting a new state law that allows a group to coax petition signers to revoke those signatures, as well as creating a similarly named group, called Floridians For Smarter Growth, that proposed a competiting constitutional amendment.

Earlier this month, Hometown Democracy’s Leslie Blackner blasted business interests in the state for intense opposition. But Barney Bishop from Associated Industries of Florida says Blackner has been disengenous.

Bishop said citizens should be grateful they could have their signatures revoked from signing on to the Hometown Democracy Amendment, because he said petitions misstated what the Amendment will actually do.

Hometown Democracy’s Ross Burnaham disputes those allegations.

It isn't exactly clear how many voters actually revoked signatures, but there was a report several weeks ago that more than 4,700 citizens had done so.

When asked if they somehow come up short on Saturday of the 611,000 legitimate signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, Hometown Democracy organizer Ross Burnaham said his group isn’t going away.

Official word on whether the Hometown Democracy Amendment and the banning of same-sex marriage will have qualified for the November ballot will be announced Saturday afternoon.

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