Amendment 2 opponents preview television ads listen10/15/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:
Many Florida voters have already received or even returned their absentee ballots; and early voting begins statewide on Monday for the Nov. 4 election.
One of the most contentious ballot initiatives is Amendment 2 which would add to the state’s constitution a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. But as a group opposing the amendment pointed out at a press conference in St. Petersburg this afternoon, it also would prohibit partnership rights for everyone except people in heterosexual marriages.
The group SayNo2 unveiled two of its television commercials before a sparse crowd of seniors at the Sunshine Senior Center in St. Pete. One commercial lists several groups in Florida that oppose Amendment 2 with reasons why. One of those groups is the Florida League of Women Voters, who was represented by former St. Petersburg City Council candidate Darden Rice.
The text of Amendment 2 defines marriage as “the legal union of only one man and only one woman as husband and wife,” but it goes on to forbid recognition of any “other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof.”
Many people fear that people in domestic partnerships could lose their benefits. A second commercial unveiled by SayNo2 on Wednesday includes a couple named Wayne and Helene from Sunrise, Florida. They are domestic partners who have hospital visitation rights they could lose if Amendment 2 passes.
If 60 percent of Floridians support Amendment 2 in November there would be a “far reaching” social and economic impact beyond gay couples, Rice said. She said the editorial boards of all 15 daily newspapers in Florida have recommended that their readers vote against Amendment 2.
Bentley Lipscomb, the former Secretary of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, said he has worked for 40 years to improve the lives of seniors; but if Amendment 2 becomes part of the Florida Constitution it “would unnecessarily restrict their options.”
Another group that opposes Amendment 2, but was not at Wednesday’s press conference is Progress Florida. It released an ad on the internet Wednesday featuring Michael Schiavo. His wife Terri died in 2005 after spending years in a vegetative state. In the ad, Schiavo urges Floridians to oppose Amendment 2 because “The same people who thought they knew what was best for my wife Terri, are once again trying to tell others how to live.” He goes on to say, “We don’t want government involved in these personal decisions.”
Mark Pudlow is a spokesperson with the Florida Education Association. He said Amendment 2 could contribute to the “brain drain” that is happening in Florida’s universities, where top academics are leaving for positions in other states. The Florida Education Association opposes Amendment 2 for a number of reasons, Pudlow said.
“One, it’s unfair. Two, it’s confusing. And three, it has a huge impact on a lot of education employees and other public employees and private employees as well.”
All of these things were news to a volunteer at the Sunshine Senior Center who goes by the name Skye. The 73-year-old said she learned about domestic partnerships for the first time while attending the press conference. Skye wore an Obama button, but already cast her vote in favor of Amendment 2 because she does not want Florida to go the way of states like Connecticut where gay marriage is legal.
Photo by: Seán Kinane/WMNF