Arguments on Florida Marriage Protection Amendment Go Well

Feb 8, 2006

Tallahassee, FL - Today, the seven Justices of the Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment ("Amendment"). The Justices appeared to agree that the Amendment does not violate the single subject rule. Mathew Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, presented the argument on behalf of Florida4Marriage.org, the sponsor of the Amendment.

Florida requires that a citizens' initiative to amend the state constitution comply with the single subject rule. This rule requires that such initiatives address only one subject matter. Additionally, the Title and Ballot Summary must provide fair notice and not be misleading. The ACLU argued that the Amendment violated that single subject rule because it asked voters to vote on marriage and to also vote against providing any protections to same-sex couples, including civil unions and domestic partnerships. The ACLU focused on the "substantial equivalent" language of the Amendment, which states: "Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized." The ACLU also argued that the word "protection" was misleading.

The Justices appeared to agree that the Amendment complies with the single subject rule and said they did not buy the ACLU's arguments. The Justices also appeared to agree that the Title and Ballot Summary were permissible.

Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, commented: "While most initiatives create something new, the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment protects something old. It does not change existing law. It preserves the status quo. The status quo is marriage. The single purpose of the Amendment is to protect marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman."

The oral argument can be viewed and a transcript can be accessed online at http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/archives/06-02.htm#FEB8. A ruling from the Court is expected soon. After the oral argument, John Stemberger, the Chairman of Florida4Marriage.org, announced the "155 in 155" campaign, meaning that the broad coalition of groups will move forward to collect the remaining 155,000 signatures in the next 155 days to place the Amendment on the ballot in November 2008. You can download the petition online.

TAKE ACTION