Tallahassee, FL - Late this evening, the Florida Division of Elections reported that the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment (Amendment 2) received more than the 60% vote required to pass constitutional amendments. Since 2006, all state constitutional amendments in Florida must pass by at least 60% of the vote.
Amendment 2 defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and will prohibit polygamy, group marriage, and same-sex marriage from being recognized in Florida. The amendment 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." This amendment prohibits same-sex marriage or same-sex marriage under a different name. The fight to pass this amendment was a coordinated effort by many individuals, organizations and churches.
The process to amend the state constitution to protect marriage began in 2005, after a series of lawsuits was 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, nearly 650,000 signatures were certified. This was the largest grassroots petition drive in the history of Florida.
Although about half of Florida voters voted for Barack Obama, a supermajority voted for the marriage amendment. This indicates that voters voted for values when it came to marriage, and yet many of those who voted for marriage voted for Obama, who opposed Amendment 2 and who promised to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act if elected. It is the federal Defense of Marriage Act which protects states such as Florida from being forced to recognize same-sex marriage. Marriage amendments are also on the ballots in Arizona and California. Early reports indicate that the amendment will pass in Arizona. The numbers are not yet available for California.Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented on the occasion: "Florida families are the real winners with the passage of the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, because it affirms marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This is a victory for children and for the future of Florida. Amendment 2 will prevent activist judges from redefining marriage by the stroke of a pen. The passage of this amendment is a bright star on an otherwise dismal night, in which America elected the most liberal President in her history. A supermajority of the people vote for values when they understand the issues."