Read this article from Sun Sentinel newspaper. It gives us a good idea why we, in Tampa and St Petersburg, and in the rest of Florida, must fight against Amendment 2. The amendment not only will impact the gay or LGBT community, but also as a whole the straight-dominated society, particularly the seniors.In that sense, the struggle against Amendment 2 has larger implications--it is a struggle to ensure that certain rights that rightfully belong to all are indeed within the reach of the minority voices.
The Sun Sentinel, October 5, 2008
Amendment 2 would hurt many couples, not just gays By Bentley Lipscomb October 5, 2008 I've spent four decades fighting for the rights of seniors in Florida, and I am deeply troubled by the threat Amendment 2 poses for Florida's large senior population. Amendment 2 does not simply define marriage; it could actually restrict who could receive basic family protections and health benefits.
The ramifications of this misdirected amendment could hit seniors particularly hard. Many seniors who are widowed do not remarry because, if they do, they risk losing essential pension benefits or they fear that a new marriage might upset estate plans for their adult children.
This amendment threatens to strip away essential health and family protections unmarried seniors count on to care for themselves and their loved ones.
Already, backers of the amendment are preparing to challenge Tampa's domestic partnership policy, which provides health coverage and other protections to firefighters, police officers and other municipal employees.
The way proponents drafted this amendment could cause problems and create obstacles for Florida seniors who have chosen to rely on domestic partnership, other family benefits and legal protections even though they are not married.
Unmarried older couples would not be able to enjoy the same ability to take care of each other. Even visiting loved ones in the hospital when they are sick would be problematic. Then, there's the whole legal issue around making decisions about the end of life.
Some widows and widowers see marriage as a religious commitment made only once. Yet, they often form loving bonds with someone who becomes their closest family, whom they care for and love.
In other states, these amendments have led to unmarried partners being denied vital benefits and protections. Florida's constitution should not make it harder for people to take care of their loved ones.
The harmful consequences of Amendment 2 are not limited to seniors. According to the Florida Legislature's own analysis, all unmarried couples of any age, straight or gay, risk losing family protections that an overwhelming majority of Floridians support.
The Office of Economic and Demographic Research, which is required to identify the impact of any proposed amendment, stated: "If domestic partnership registries are deemed substantially equivalent to marriage, their termination could place registrants at risk of losing specified rights and benefits, such as those related to health insurance."
Bentley Lipscomb is former director of the state Department of Elder Affairs and was a longtime state director of AARP.