Debate on gay unions persist

Gay marriage bans placed on ballots Nov. 4 have sparked outrage from the gay community as residents of place like California and Florida voted to prevent gay marriage.

Proposition 8 in California recently sparked protests and rallies in the state, while Amendment 2 in Florida angered those who were against the initiative.

According to the Leon county supervisor of elections’ unofficial results, Amendment 2 passed with 78,764 votes.  64, 020 voted against the amendment. Supporters like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and church leaders, cheered for the ban’s passing, while opponents like the NAACP and The Florida League of Women Voters were defeated.

Amendment 2 found its way to the ballot through a petition signed by a certain number of registered voters to force a public vote on a proposed amendment. With 92,000 signatures, volunteer circulators were able to collect enough signatures to qualify the amendment for the 2008 general election.

Supporters of the amendment argued that it would protect children by ensuring that the only form of marriage is between a man and a woman. Opponents of the amendment argued that health care and pension benefit plans, which cover unmarried couples and heterosexual older couples with domestic partnerships living together, could be unfavorably affected.

 Yes to Amendment 2

Some people who voted for Amendment 2 simply said that gay marriage should not be allowed.

Iman Smith, 19, a second year pharmacy student from Memphis, Tenn., disagrees with giving a gay couple the same rights as a heterosexual couple.

“I believe that they can have a ceremony to recognize the relationship, but they shouldn’t be given the same rights as a married couple,” he said. “If it didn’t pass I probably would have signed a petition to get rid of it.”

Gabrielle Riggins, 19, also a second year pharmacy student from Jacksonville, also voted for the amendment. She stood by her decision that gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed but felt there was more to it.

“Even though I am against gay marriage I don’t know how I feel about it passing, because when I was reading the ballot, it seemed like there was more to it then what was being said,” said Riggins.

No to Amendment 2

Nishea Harris, 19, a second-year criminal justice student from Jacksonville, voted for the amendment because she feels like everyone should have the same rights.

“Who am I to say who you can or can’t marry, it’s your life, it’s your decision,” said Harris.

The Family Tree, a safe haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, provides help with life in the community, and was strongly against the amendment.

Paul Anway, a board of director member for Family Tree, said he felt hurt, angry and betrayed by residents in Florida.

“I believe even if there were protest groups like the one in California, it wouldn’t be beneficial. However, that doesn’t mean that we will stop working to overturn the ban,” said Anway.

Anway said he saw the entire election as a huge leap forward for equality then another huge one back.