Thursday, October 9, 2008

What’s In a Title?

Steve Rothaus at Gay South Florida reports that the disingenuously-named ”Florida Marriage Protection Amendment” – aka the same-sex marriage ban (or constitutionally mandated gay discrimination) could pass: it leads 55% to 34%, and it takes 60% to become a part of the state constitution.

[Brad] Coker, [pollster for Mason-Dixon Polling & Research], though, said he expected undecided voters will likely cast a ballot in favor of the gay-marriage amendment, thereby supplying it with the additional 5 percentage points it needs to pass.

”The undecideds always seem to break more strongly toward sort of the more anti-gay side of the issue,” Coker said.

But not if Florida Red & Blue can help it. The bipartisan group plans to run an ad painting the amendment as ”vague” and a threat to domestic-partner benefits, even for heterosexual seniors. Supporters of Amendment 2 say that’s a scare tactic.

Some members of the legal community also are joining forces against Amendment 2. More than 150 lawyers from across the state signed a letter against the statewide ballot measure that would ban gay marriage by specifying that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. The letter was released Wednesday by Florida Red & Blue.

The attorneys are encouraging voters on Nov. 4 to say ”no” to the proposal, which opponents say will have consequences for all unmarried couples in Florida, gay and straight.

The critics say say the measure could lead to the potential loss of existing legal protection and benefits, including alimony, estate planning and domestic partnership registries.

Giving the same-sex marriage ban an innocuous title like “Marriage Protection Amendment” sounds good, but if they called it the “Deny Equal Rights to Citizens Amendment,” which is what it would do for both straight and gay people, it would not pass.

Whenever I hear someone saying they want to “protect traditional marriage,” I want to know which traditional marriage they’re talking about: the biblical tradition of one man and as many wives as he could afford? The tradition of marrying off your daughter to the guy next door to seal a business deal? The tradition of arranged marriages between two 12-year-olds? The tradition of marriage where the wife has to submit to the husband and squeeze out babies like a photocopier? The tradition of banning marriage between people of different races? The tradition of starting a civil war and your own branch of Protestantism because the king wants to divorce his dull wife and marry the pretty Anne? Frankly, I don’t know why gays and lesbians want to join in the dubious history of such “traditions,” but there’s always hope that they can at the very least improve it.