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Florida Anti-Gay Amendment Appears Doomed


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Florida Anti-Gay Amendment Appears Doomed

by Fidel Ortega, 365Gay.com Miami Bureau

Posted: January 23, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(Miami, Florida) With only about a week left organizers of a proposed amendment to prevent same-sex marriage in Florida remain several hundred thousand signatures short of the requirement.

Members of the group Florida-4-Marriage say they have collected about 300,000 of the approximately 600,000 signatures needed for a vote on the amendment in November.

This weekend the organization began sending letters to all 67 county election supervisors warning them to expect a late-month deluge.

But, even if there is a sudden rush by voters to sign the petitions they may not get counted. Clerks say they already are deluged with work. Some have not finished counting those petitions already turned in.

Escambia County Elections Supervisor David Stafford said his office also is coping with a March 7 local election.

"We are preparing for a countywide election on new voting equipment, and like everybody else in the state we're adjusting to the new statewide voter registration system," he said

Clerks in Duval and Palm Beach Counties also say they will not be able to count signatures submitted at the last minute.

"Supervisors around the state already had a lot on their plate," said one

Part of the problem said Florida-4-Marriage campaign chair John Stemberger is the February 1 deadline by which the petitions must be in. That's earlier than in previous years, thanks to a measure pushed by state Republicans.

Ironically it is the GOP that wants to see the amendment put to voters.

The party has been the campaign's biggest sponsor. Last week an investigation by the St. Petersburg Times into funding for Florida4Marriage has found that of the $193,000 that has been raised by the group $150,000 came from a single donor - the Florida Republican Party. (story)

Yet Gov. Jeb Bush, the titular head of the party, publicly said in 2004 that he is opposed to an amendment (story) and a spokesperson for the Governor said Bush was not aware of the donation.

If Florida-4-Marriage fails to get the measure on the November ballot it would make Florida the second state where a proposed amendment banning gay marriage has failed.

In California one group attempting to put a proposed amendment banning gay marriage before California voters failed to submit the signatures required for the June 2006 ballot but said it is working to see the issue put to voters in November. A second group is also trying get its version on the fall ballot but concedes it too is having trouble collecting signatures. (story)

Voters this year will be asked to approve proposed amendments limiting marriage to opposite sex-couples in Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.

©365Gay.com 2006


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