Friday, January 13, 2006

Florida GOP Bankrolls Bigotry

What else would you call it? From the Miami Herald:

The Republican Party of Florida is by far the biggest financial backer of a proposed ballot initiative that would change the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage.

The party gave $150,000 to Florida4Marriage.org in November, which accounts for more than three-quarters of what the group raised over the entire year, according to a campaign finance report submitted by the group this week.

“Their support both financially and through endorsements is very significant,” John Stemberger, chairman of the petition effort, said Thursday.

The group wants the Florida Constitution to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Florida law already states the same.

So far about 172,000 signatures have been certified. To get the initiative on the ballot would require 611,000 signatures in all by Feb. 1. Both Republican gubernatorial candidates — Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Attorney General Charlie Crist — have endorsed the effort. It has not been endorsed by either of the Democrats running for governor, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and state Sen. Rod Smith.

The chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, Karen Thurman, said Republicans probably are trying to find another means to get their party’s conservative Christian base out to the polls. She also said Republicans are supporting the initiative because they know it’s a divisive issue.

“I don’t like when we get into debates about something of this nature when it becomes very divisive,” she said. “It seems to me that there are issues like healthcare and education and living wages and other issues like that that should be the center of the debate.”

She also noted that Republican Gov. Jeb Bush has said the amendment isn’t needed.

“It’s the law,” Thurman said. “So what is the purpose?”

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Carole Jean Jordan appeared with the initiative’s backers at a news conference last week and issued a statement supporting the effort.

“This isn’t a partisan issue,” she said Thursday. “It’s a family-values issue and the fact that the Democratic Party doesn’t support it shows just how far they are out of the mainstream.”

No, Ms. Jordan, what it shows is that the GOP of Florida is the party of snivelling bigots who depend on fear, greed, and hatred to get their base to the polls. If bigotry is your idea of “family values,” you are are more outside of the mainstream — and well should be — than the biggest flaming queen in Key West.