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Florida Definition of Marriage, Amendment 2 (2008)

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The Florida Definition of Marriage Amendment, also known as Amendment 2 and The Marriage Protection Amendment, was an initiated constitutional amendment on the November 4, 2008 election ballot in Florida, where it was approved.

  • Amendment 2 was the 29th citizen-initiated measure to appear on a Florida statewide ballot.


On July 17, 2014, Judge Luis Garcia of Florida's Sixteenth Circuit Court overturned Amendment 2 ruling that it effectively made same-sex couples second-class citizens. The ruling only applies to Monroe County, but Garcia said that marriage licenses could start being issued there on July 22, 2014.[2] However, due to an appeal filed just shortly after the ruling, a stay has been placed upon Garcia's ruling. This means that licenses will not be available to same-sex couples unless a higher court upholds his ruling.[3]

On July 25, 2014, Judge Sarah I. Zabel of the Florida Eleventh Circuit Court ruled similarly to overturn the ban in Miami-Dade County. Zabel immediately stayed the ruling until appeals are heard, and Attorney General of Florida Pam Bondi (R) filed an appeal on the same day.[4]

On August 5, 2014, a third judge, Judge Dale Cohen of the Broward County Circuit Court, ruled the ban was unconstitutional, as well. Similar to the prior two rulings, this ruling only applies to Broward County, and Cohen placed an immediate stay on his ruling.[5]

Also on August 5, 2014, a fourth judge, Judge Diana Lewis of the Palm Beach County Circuit Court, ruled against the ban in a probate case. This ruling applies only to this specific case which allowed a widower to be the personal representative of the deceased's estate.[6]

On August 21, 2014, Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court of Northern Florida ruled the marriage ban unconstitutional, making him the first federal judge to rule on the issue in Florida. The judge claimed that the ban violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process and also compared it to laws against interracial marriages. Judge Hinkle stayed his decision, meaning no same-sex marriage licenses could be given, and out of state same-sex marriages were not yet recognized. Attorney General of Florida Pam Bondi (R), who appealed the decisions by the previous four judges, challenged this order.[7][8]

Judge Hinkle's stay on his decision was designed to expire 91 days after the United States Supreme Court denied cert in other same-sex marriage cases, which occurred on October 6, 2014. Therefore, Hinkle's stay was set to expire on January 5, 2015. Both the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and Supreme Court refused to grant an additional stay on the decision.[9][10]

On January 1, 2015, Hinkle ruled that county clerks across the state must start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples by January 6, 2015.[11]

Election results

Florida Amendment 2 (2008)
Approveda Yes 4,890,883 61.92%

Election Results via: Florida Department of State Division of Elections

Text of measure

The ballot title read:


The ballot summary read:

This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.[1][12]

The fiscal impact statement read:

The direct financial impact this amendment will have on state and local government revenues and expenditures cannot be determined, but is expected to be minor.[1][12]

Constitutional changes

The text of the amendment read:


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.[1]



Supporters included:

On September 30, 2008, a group of church leaders from around the country met outside the Miami-Dade County Courthouse to show their support of Amendment 2. In general, Florida's religious community was strongly in favor of the measure.[16]


Notable arguments made in support of the measure included:

  • Supporters say the amendment would protect children by ensuring that only the form of marriage between a man and a woman would ever be celebrated in Florida.
  • The Florida statute that already provides for a single form of marriage could be overturned by a court on constitutional grounds.
  • Supporters say that if the amendment failed, school children could be indoctrinated in the gay lifestyle.[17]



Opponents included:


Notable arguments made in opposition to the measure included:

  • The petition was acting as bait for the Presidential election in order to draw out conservative voters; there was already enough legislation in place currently.[21]
  • Healthcare and pension benefit plans which cover unmarried couples, even heterosexual older couples, living together and which were then legally valid may be adversely affected.
  • Article I of the Florida Constitution, known as the Declaration of Rights, establishes rights, but this amendment would instead limit the right to marry.
  • There were already other Florida Laws that expressly prohibit homosexual unions, so this amendments purpose is much larger than that and if passed will be used to restrict all relationships that are not a legal marriage under Florida's Statutes.
  • Opponents said that elderly people in the state who, after being widowed, had subsequently chosen a domestic partnership in order to retain certain benefits, would be adversely impacted by the measure.[22]

Campaign contributions

Amendment 2 was one of three ballot measures that appeared on November ballots around the country to ban same-sex marriage. Of these, the highest profile battle surrounded California Proposition 8. According to Stephen Gaskill, a spokesperson for Florida Red and Blue, the focus on the California measure complicated fundraising efforts for those fighting Florida Amendment 2.

Gaskill said, "Certainly if the California effort was not underway, it would be easier for Florida to raise money — that’s just a reality."[23]


See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.
Month of Poll In Favor Opposed Undecided
September 2008 55 percent 41 percent 9 percent[24]


Lawyers for the Florida Red and Blue amendment opposition group filed a lawsuit on October 28, 2008 to force the pro-amendment group to disclose its donors and take their TV ads off the air. The lawsuit sought:

  • The identification of donors to two groups, the Florida Family Action and the Florida Family Policy Council. These groups were headed by John Stemberger and were linked to the political campaign committee, Florida4Marriage, that put the initiative on the ballot.
  • Florida4Marriage did not itself pay for a burst of pro-amendment TV advertising; rather, F4M (which is required to disclose its donors) reported an in-kind donation from the Florida Family Action group. That group said it was not required to disclose its donors; the lawsuit challenged that contention.

Shortly after Florida Red and Blue announced the filing of the lawsuit, Stemberger issued a press release criticizing the group for avoiding the issue of gay marriage in its anti-Amendment 2 campaign and instead raising concerns about the proposal’s impact on domestic partnerships between both straight and gay couples, particularly seniors.[25]

Media editorial positions

Florida's newspapers, according to one source, were united in their opposition to the amendment. The statement read "...every single daily newspaper in Florida has taken a position against Amendment 2."[26]

Path to the ballot

The initiative was able to collect enough signatures in order to qualify for the 2008 general election.[27] This was done by volunteer circulators gathering 92,000 signatures, roughly 7,000 a day, in order to ensure the qualification of the measure.[28]

Other states

Voters in twenty-six other states have passed constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage. Two others states, Arizona (Proposition 102) and California (Proposition 8) also had proposed amendments on the November ballot.

Existing statutes in Florida

Two existing Florida statutes prohibit same-sex marriage:

  • Florida Statute 741.212(1) defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman and provides that the term "spouse" applies only to a member of such union (FL. Stat. 741.212(1),(3)).
  • Florida also adopted a Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1997 which was codified as Florida Statute 741.212.

Judicial language

The amendment as written included a clause prohibiting judges from overturning the law. This was a response to what happened in Massachusetts, where a judge overturned that state's law banning same-sex marriage.[29]

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

Suggest a link


External links

Basic information



Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS TO BE VOTED ON NOVEMBER 4, 2008 NOTICE OF ELECTION," Florida Department of State, Division of Elections
  2. Associated Press, "Judge Overturns Gay Marriage Ban In Florida Keys," July 17, 2014
  3. News Press, "Florida marriage equality activists cheer court ruling," July 18, 2014
  4. Associated Press, "Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down for Miami Area," July 25, 2014
  5. West Hawaii Today, "3rd Florida judge rules gay marriage ban unconstitutional," August 5, 2014
  6. Florida Courier, "Another judge rules same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional," August 7, 2014
  7. New York Times, "Florida: Federal Judge Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage," August 21, 2014
  8. USA Today, "U.S. judge strikes down Fla. ban on same-sex marriage," August 21, 2014
  9. United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, "Order - Motion to stay pending appeal denied," December 3, 2014
  10. Metro Weekly, "Supreme Court allows Florida same-sex marriages to proceed," December 19, 2014
  11. The Guardian, "Same-sex marriages to begin in Florida after new ruling from federal judge," January 2, 2015
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  13. Christian Newswire: "Marriage Leaders Blast Opponents for Deception and Scare Tactics," Dec. 13, 2007 (dead link)
  14. Washington Blade: "Florida Gov. announces support of amendment 2," August 6, 2008
  15. 15.0 15.1 Florida Baptist Witness: "African-American pastors rally in support of marriage amendment," Sep 26, 2008
  16. Miami Herald: "Church leaders unite to back gay-marriage ban," Oct 1, 2008 (dead link)
  17. Palm Beach Post, "If Amendment 2 fails, backers say kids will be led into 'gay lifestyle'," October 22, 2008
  18. Christian Newswire: "Marriage Leaders Blast Opponents for Deception and Scare Tactics," Dec. 13, 2007 (dead link)
  19. News Press: "Florida marriage amendment intrudes in private matters," Nov. 19, 2007
  20. "ACLU urges opposition to marriage amendment," March 23, 2008
  21. Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation blog: "South Florida Press Critical of Upcoming Ballot Initiative," March 6, 2008 (dead link)
  22. Emory Wheel, "Get your grandma to support gay marriage"
  23. Washington Blade: "Calif. draining money from Fla. amendment fight," July 18, 2008 (dead link)
  24. News-Press.come: "Poll: Most Florida voters support gay marriage ban amendment, but not enough for passage," Sep. 8, 2008
  25. Palm Beach Post, "Amend 2 opponents file lawsuit as tensions over gay marriage flare," October 28, 2008
  26. An open letter to opponents of Amendment 2
  27. Edge Boston: "Anti-Gay Fla. Initiative Will Appear on Nov. Ballot," Feb. 3, 2008
  28. The Bulletin: "Florida Puts Marriage Amendment On Ballot," Feb. 4, 2008
  29. Herald Tribune: "Amendment banning same-sex marriages closing in on ballot spot in November 2008," Nov. 5, 2007