Maybe we'll beat it at the ballot box.

I'm sure going to do what I can to make that happen.

Florida4Marriage, and its chairman, John Stemberger (a recognized leader in rental car accident law) are the people behind Florida's new Marriage Protection Amendment, and yesterday they finally got the signatures they need to put it on the 2008 ballot.

I worry, as Chris Kelly does, that this is the kind of thing that might get Florida's otherwise demoralized mouth-breathing Republican voters out to the polls next year. I take comfort in the idea that while Florida might well stay red as a result, there are lots of other states poised to switch in 2008, thereby making our electoral statement less important than it has been in the past.

On the other hand, if someone other than Mike Huckabee wins the nomination (and I still think he's a longshot regardless of the early polling numbers), hating on teh gay might not be as effective. Kind of hard for Rudy to carry the banner for gay hatred and 1) have southern Republicans buy it and 2) make the kinds of inroads to Democratic strongholds he'll need to win the Presidency over whichever Democrat he faces. And if Huckabee does win the nomination, well, there's a better chance for a nationwide landslide for the Democrats.

But Brian, you say, does that mean you're willing to toss gays under the bus for a larger win? Of course not. First of all, I think we can straight up beat the bill. Second of all, the bill is meaningless, because whether or not this amendment passes, nothing changes. Gays can't marry in Florida as it is, and if a same-sex marriage case ever finds its way to the Supreme Court and the Court says DOMA is unconstitutional and that marriage between people of the same gender is the same as marriage between people of different races, then all the state constitutions in the world won't matter. Individual rights, backed by federal law, as I understand it, trump state constitutions.

For example, it doesn't matter if a state constitution limits the franchise to white, landowning males. (Yes, that's directly addressed in various amendments to the Constitution, and this would involve a ruling, but bear wth me.) If SCOTUS were to find for same-sex marriage using Loving as a basis, making marriage an individual right, which included all the rights the federal government currently provides to heterosexual married couples, then any state law which contradicted that, whether just in the code or as part of that state's Constitution, would be voided.

I'd still rather beat it at the ballot box, however, and I think that the sort of voter who is more likely to vote down this amendment than for it is also more likely to be energized to come out in November 2008. It will be close, no doubt, but we can win this.

One key to doing so will involve energizing youth voters. They tend, on the whole, to be more socially liberal than older cohorts. They've grown up in a society that recognizes rights for out gays and lesbians. They've probably seen, in college if not high school, LGBT groups, and if they don't have openly gay friends, certainly have openly gay acquaintances. And they'll have (potentially) the opportunity to be a part of a nation-changing election. (If there's not a female or a minority on the Democratic ticket at either number 1 or 2, then shame on us.) All this should appeal to them as voters--add to it that today's teens are more politically in touch than ever before thanks to the net, and there's a real possibility for a win here.

I'll continue to write about this in the coming months, and in the meantime, I'm open for organizing suggestions.

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