Forgive me for reiterating what you’ve probably heard already: Amendment 2 passed. Just to recap, Amendment 2 affects Florida’s constitution by legally defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Though there are other laws on the books barring gay marriage, Amendment 2 makes it harder for lawsuits to achieve recognition of same-sex unions.
This amendment, one of the most clearly bigoted propositions ever brought before Florida voters, passed with 62.1 percent of the vote. This means that 4,758,737 people voted to deny equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. The lesser-known implication of the amendment is the dissolution of domestic partnerships, which eliminates dependent benefits to heterosexual couples.
Though it passed overwhelmingly, I have yet to observe a cogent argument in support of the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment. It is a black mark on both the state’s and the nation’s history.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, said, “Children always fare better when they have a mother and father. We should not, as a matter of law and public policy, create inherently motherless and fatherless homes.”
If you give Stemberger the benefit of the doubt and assume the core argument for the amendment is protecting children — not discrimination — then you must also assume that every gay married couple would want to become parents. You would also have to assume that children raised in single-parent homes end up being less developed in some way than those from a traditional two-parent family. This would be a good time to remind proponents of Amendment 2 that President-elect Barack Obama was raised in a fatherless home.
My biggest pet peeve is calling something unconstitutional when it is not. Amendment 2, as an amendment to Florida’s constitution is, of course, constitutional in the literal sense. The United States’ Constitution, however, has a different story to tell.
Amendment 14 of the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1868, states that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
That’s pretty straightforward — the Constitution universalizes laws for all citizens. However, Amendment 14 was ratified two years before Amendment 15, which prohibited barring people from voting based on race, and 52 years before women were given the right to vote.
Looking back, it’s nearly self-evident that blacks and women should have equal protections and rights under the law. Considering this, I’m left wondering how Amendment 2 could’ve passed. It feels like a step backward. This talk of unity, of coming together to better ourselves and our nation, may be just that — talk.
Making legal distinctions based on sexual orientation is inconsistent with the legal and moral standard for equality. Prohibiting discrimination and preferential treatment for citizens based on uncontrollable factors such as race and sex should be extended to the psychological disposition of homosexuality.
Daniel Dunn is a junior majoring in philosophy.