Nadine Smith

We Are All Floridians

Filed By Nadine Smith | January 29, 2008 6:12 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: amendment, Fairness for All Families, Florida, grassroots, marriage, New Jersey, referendum, same-sex marriage, volunteers, voting

On this cool January morning, a Clearwater grandmother is talking to a conservative Christian health care worker who says she will vote NO in November on the so-called "marriage amendment" because she has witnessed first-hand the cruel impact of refusing legal recognition for unmarried partners. She's watched the caretaking partner lose every penny paying medical bills for a life partner the law refuses to recognize as family.

Students in Orlando and retirees in Hallandale talked with voters about the divisive amendment for hours at Florida's polls today. Some voters brushed passed but many had their own stories to tell. One man in his 60's said the amendment would hurt his mother and her boyfriend who have been together for decades but will not marry.

Retirees. Students. Union workers. Retirees. Straight. Gay. Young. Old. Grandmothers. Single Fathers.

More than 500 strong, an army of Fairness for All Families volunteers fanned out across the state to talk to voters coming to cast their ballot at the Jan 29th Presidential Primary.

Drawn from the more than 200 civil rights, faith, senior and campus and community organizations that make up the Fairness for All Families Campaign, these volunteers embody the far ranging impact of the deceptively named "Florida Marriage Protection" amendment.

If passed, it would strip away essential benefits from all unmarried Floridians - blocking the passage of civil unions and repealing existing domestic partnership protections vital to thousands of families.

This is a catalyst moment in a showdown that has been brewing for almost four years. And it is a fight that every one inside or outside of Florida has a stake in seeing Fairness prevail.

Let me be clear, this is heading to the ballot for one reason: To influence the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election by mobilizing arch-conservative voters.

The far-right has relied on this strategy for the past decade. But it is a strategy that is running out of steam and is beginning to backfire precisely because of the broad and deep coalitions that are coming together to oppose the substance and the symbolism of these ballot measures.

We are all Floridians in 2008 because we all have a stake in defeating this amendment. Defeating it in the South. Defeating it in a Republican-controlled state. Defeating it as a tool for rallying the right by appealing to prejudice. Defeat it and in doing so end these amendments as a cynical political tool to manipulate votes at the expense of our families.

We can do that in Florida this year and the path to our success begins with each conversation by ordinary people with their neighbors, family, friends and perfect strangers at a nearby precinct.

The most common feedback from our volunteers on the ground: "You can never assume where people are going to stand without talking to them."

This is how we win in Florida. This is how we win everywhere.

[Fairness for All Families is a coalition of more than 200 organizations dedicated to defeating the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment. To volunteer from anywhere in the country, send us an e-mail]

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Michael Bedwell | January 29, 2008 9:40 PM

Hi Nadine! [We met through Chip A. at Equality Forum a couple of years ago.] Great post and point.

While I often foam at the proverbial mouth about what I believe is Obama's naivete about how many homohating lions will ever be willing to lie down in peace with gay lambs, there are eyes and hearts that sometimes open on their own.

A few years ago in response to some money I'd sent to the Gay Straight Alliance at Boyd County High School in Kentucky which was caught up in a major legal and emotional battle to allow them to exist [even that parasite Bill O'Reilly did a show about it], the nongay teacher who had courageously volunteered to be their required sponsor wrote me that she and her husband were among those kinds of people. That he, in fact, had been a Baptist preacher who had once held such ideas but that the increasingly unChristian behavior of the denomination in a number of areas had caused him to resign.

Despite court victories for the kids, last I heard the bigots have functionally prevailed for now. But I have no doubt that the lives of some kids, maybe some local adults even, are now better because of the witness of Mrs. King and her husband.

Yes, Nadine!

We can cordon off the impacts of these laws all we want, but in the end they affect us all, so we should be fighting them together!

Wait. I thought the amendment was off again due to thrown out signatures. I wish you'd do a post with the background of the situation and what's happened so far. :)

uh, no the amendment is in limbo. We'll know more Monday.. and then it will probably take another few weeks to get a clear yes or no.
We are working as if it will happen.
According to the florida jackasses, they have the signatures. Now they are praying they get processed by tomorrow (Friday) at 5pm.
Yes, it's a cliff-hanger.