A coalition of activists for equality for people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities has begun a campaign to raise campus awareness about a Florida amendment that could ban civil unions
OUTspoken, an organization started in the spring of 2004, disagrees with the amendment that would ban civil unions among homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals.
Erin Horth, a sophomore and OUTspoken chairperson, said the passing of the amendment would be a significant defeat in the fight for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual (GLBT) rights.
“Winning marriage equality is one of the major ways to achieve equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people,” Horth said.
According to the Marriage Protection Amendment, even if an unmarried couple – homosexual or heterosexual — gained domestic partnership in a state where civil union is legal, such as New Jersey, the relationship would not be officially recognized in Florida.
OUTspoken has tried to spread knowledge about the amendment and its implications by posting two banners in the UC breezeway and Memorial Classroom Building, passing out information cards and tabling in the breezeway.
“We try to inform people rather than convince them,” Horth said. “But when I tell most people what the amendment proposes, they are so against it.”
Matt Micklavzina, a sophomore, said he has seen the OUTspoken banners and feels that the fight against this amendment should not be fought by OUTspoken alone, adding that the university’s entire GLBT community should be involved.
“Any gay or lesbian who intends to live in Florida and has a spouse needs to talk to their friends and explain why they should vote against it,” Micklavzina said. “I already asked my parents to vote no.”
OUTspoken also publicized the amendment during its annual “Marriages on the Rock” ceremony, which allows any two people to have “mock marriages” regardless of gender. Horth said the event, which took place March 28, would send the message that marriage discrimination is not acceptable.
However, not every student at UM approves of the Marriages on the Rock ceremony and same sex civil unions.
Siobhan Williams, a junior studying biomedical engineering, said she does not support homosexual relations because of what is said in the Bible, and said she was “saddened” by the Marriages on the Rock ceremony. She invoked a Biblical verse from Leviticus which reads, “You shall not lie with a male as those who lie with a female; it is an abomination.”
“I condemn the action of homosexuality, but not the people,” Williams said.
Still, most members of OUTspoken viewed the marriages as a successful way to raise awareness. The guest speaker at the event, Chris Fisher, a UM alumnus and former OUTspoken president, said that members of the GLBT community and heterosexuals must fight together against the amendment.
Anthony Minerva may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Stephanie Ceverino may be contacted at email@example.com
The Marriage Protection 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.”
Sixty percent of voters must approve an amendment in order for it to pass and become a law, according to Section 5e, Article 11 of the Florida state constitution.
When to vote: Primary election on Aug. 26; General election on Nov. 4
More voting information is available at MiamiDade.gov/elections.