Division of Elections Certifies Florida Marriage Protection Amendment for 2008 Ballot

Feb 2, 2008

We have exciting news! Late last night the Florida Division of Elections announced that the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment is now certified for the November 4, 2008 ballot with a total of 649,346 petitions. Within the last two weeks, 92,000 petitions were collected in order to exceed the 611,009 required before the February 1 deadline.

The amendment defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and would prohibit polygamy, group marriage, and same sex marriage from being recognized in Florida. The fight to bring this amendment to the ballot has been a coordinated effort by many individuals, organizations and churches. John Stemberger, State Chairman of Florida4Marriage.org, the official sponsor of the amendment, is to be commended for his extraordinary work in coordinating the petition drive. No marriage amendment effort in any state has gathered as many signatures.

In December, the Florida Division of Elections web site reported that more than enough petitions had counted and verified by the Supervisors of Elections, but then indicated in January that approximately 30,000 of the petitions were thrown out causing a shortage of approximately 22,000 petitions. With only two weeks remaining, groups and individuals all over the state rallied to collect more signatures to meet the February 1 deadline.

The process to amend the state constitution to protect marriage began in 2005 after a series of lawsuits were filed challenging Florida’s Defense of Marriage Act (which Mat Staver drafted) that was passed in 1997. A coalition of groups joined together and agreed on the language of the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment that was drafted by Mat and Anita Staver. In January 2006, Mat Staver presented oral argument in defense of the language, and on March 23, 2006, the Florida Supreme Court in a 7-0 opinion rejected the ACLU’s challenge to the marriage amendment. Following the ruling by the Court, the task became obtaining the required number of signatures.

We are thankful that so many pastors and community leaders came together in to a coordinated effort to accomplish the largest grassroots petition initiative Florida’s history.

We also appreciate the efforts of all of you who forwarded our email requests for help to all your contacts in Florida. You helped secure this victory!

Now we must turn our efforts toward educating Florida voters about the necessity of passing this amendment in November. Florida constitutional amendments require passage by 60% of the voters.

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