Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Both Sides Cite Dangers on Gender Amendment; It Would Put the Ban on Same-Sex Marriage into the State Constitution

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Both Sides Cite Dangers on Gender Amendment; It Would Put the Ban on Same-Sex Marriage into the State Constitution

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

Unless you vote yes on Amendment 2, backers say, your children will be forced to learn about same-sex relationships in public schools and the concept of gender will be removed from Florida law.

And it would become hate speech to use gender-based terms such as "mother and father" and "husband and wife," said John Stemberger, an Orlando lawyer and chairman of Yes2Marriage.org.

The amendment would place Florida's existing ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution if approved by voters.

Its passage, opponents say, will threaten domestic partnership benefits enjoyed by millions of couples, gay and straight.

But Amendment 2's defeat would leave the state's current ban without constitutional protection. That would leave it open to lawsuits that could be successful if heard by a liberal judge, said Mat Staver, chairman of the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel and co-author of the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment.

That in turn, Staver said, could lead to situations that have occurred in states where same-sex marriage is legal.

- In Massachusetts, children were taught about same-sex marriage in public schools. As a result, their parents sued and lost.

- Catholic Charities in Boston got out of the adoption business when it could not get an exemption from state law barring discrimination based on orientation.

- And in New Jersey, where same-sex civil unions are legal, a Methodist organization faces the loss of tax-exempt status on a pavilion where it would not allow a lesbian couple to marry. …

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