On today's radio show, I talked about the upcoming Amendment 2 that we will vote on in November. I've taken to calling this the Hate Amendment. You should, too. Why? Because this so-called gay marriage ban would not only ban gay marriage, which is already illegal in Florida, it would prevent cities and companies from providing benefits of any sort to gay couples and would also affect many straight couples and just plain roommates in a very negative way. I went through the list of arguments against the Amendment and you can feel free to pick and choose amongst the various arguments based on your location and audience. Here they are:
1. It's morally wrong to ban gay marriage. We are talking about taxpaying American citizens and such a ban would deny them a basic human right available to all other citizens.
2. It is unconstitutional under the federal Constitution. You can't deny any citizen a right without due process and without a legitimate reason. Neither of those is present here.
3. It would enshrine hate in the Constitution, something that we really shouldn't be doing. Putting such hatred in our highest document means that such hatred is legitimized.
4. This would be the first time that we used the Florida Constitution to take away rights, something that is at odds with basic constitutional principles. Constitutions exist to protect rights, not remove them.
5. At the federal level, we only tried to take away rights via the Constitution one time -- prohibition -- and it was an unmitigated disaster, leading to the Great Depression and the rise of organized crime in America. Is that the type of history we want to repeat?
6. It's unnecessary. Gay marriage is already illegal in Florida.
7. This law teaches hate to children. By legalizing hate in the Constitution, we tell children that such hate is acceptable. We should never teach hate to children. The government, in particular, should never teach hate to anyone.
8. The Republican slogan is "Less Taxes, Less Government, More Freedom." This Amendment proves that is a lie. This Amendment clearly means less freedom. Less freedom for individuals to choose who they love. Less freedom for cities to give benefits to who they choose to. Less freedom for corporations to provide benefits to their employees as they see fit. A dirty little secret here is that conservatives actually hate freedom. They love it for themselves, but they hate it for the rest of us. This Amendment proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
9. Gay marriage has never hurt anyone. Gay adoption has never hurt anyone. No gay right has ever caused any harm to anyone.
10. This Amendment, however, does hurt gay people. Particularly in those cities and working for those companies that do provide benefits. It hurts straight people who fall under its Draconian language. It hurts children who are taught to hate. It hurts us all because we become less civilized.
11. This Amendment would limit various rights that people currently have or might have, such as hospital visitation rights, the right to make decisions for your ill spouse, inheritance rights when there is no will, parental rights and more than a thousand other rights that marriage confers by law.
12. This Amendment would provide cover for Domestic abusers who live in situations where they aren't married. Don't believe me? A judge ruled exactly this in another state where a law with this same language passed.
13. By increasing the legitimacy of discrimination and hatred, this will encourage more hatred, discrimination and violence against gay people.
14. The role of the government is to protect citizens, not hurt them.
15. If you are a Christian, this directly violates the teachings of Christ. In addition to the substitution of earthly judgment for God's judgment it violates the admonition to "judge not, lest ye be judged." Beyond that, Christ never said a single word about gay people, but said thousands of words about helping those in poverty. Christians who obsess about gay people and ignore poverty are not only hypocrites, they are in direct violation of the teachings of Christ. And to those who say that the Old Testament has admonitions against homosexuality, maybe it does, but it also has many other admonitions, almost none of which modern people follow. For instance, one part of Leviticus specifically says that a woman on her period should be kept in a shed outside of the home while she has her period and that she shouldn't be touched. If you don't follow that rule (and many others), choosing to adhere to a strict literal interpretation of the passages on homosexuality are not you living by biblical principles, that's just you being a bigot.
Throughout the year, we'll come back to this issue often as we have a real chance to beat this Amendment and we have a moral obligation to do so.