Adwatch: Amendment 2 opponents release 1st Fla. ad

election_2008

TITLE: "Democrats United Against Amendment 2"

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: Statewide in Florida.

SCRIPT: Announcer: "Democrats are united against Amendment 2 in Florida. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Robert Wexler all say "Vote No on 2." Amendment 2 would ban domestic partner agreements, hurting many seniors, and let government into our personal lives. Alex Sink, Kathy Castor and Kendrick Meek oppose Amendment 2 because personal marriage issues should be decided by you, your family and clergy, not the government. Keep government out of our private lives. Vote 'No' on 2."

KEY IMAGES: The ad begins with shot of the American flag, which is then overlaid with images of politicians who oppose the amendment including Obama, Clinton, Wasserman Schultz and Wexler. Shots of the politicians are followed by black and white photos of seniors as well as younger heterosexual couples.

ANALYSIS: The ad, which began running on cable channels statewide Tuesday, was timed to begin airing during the Democratic National Convention. It is the first of the campaign season by the opponents of Amendment 2, Florida Red & Blue's SayNo2 campaign.

The ad encapsulates Florida Red & Blue's primary argument against Amendment 2 - that the amendment is, in fact, new language that will have the effect of banning domestic partnerships and therefore hurt "many seniors." Backers, however, argue that what the amendment does is put existing Florida law against same-sex marriages into the state constitution.

Currently, domestic partnership agreements available in some parts of the state and offered by some companies to Florida employees extend benefits to registered domestic partners. That includes same-sex couples but also seniors who may live as a couple but have decided not to marry. In some cases, marrying again could effect benefits a person receives from a previous spouse who has died.

Opponents of Amendment 2 believe Florida domestic partnership registries have 10,000 to 15,000 couples and that even more Floridians get benefits as domestic partners through their partner's company. Those people could all be effected by Amendment 2, they say.

Backers, meanwhile, who call Amendment 2 the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, call Florida Red & Blue's argument a "scare tactic." The amendment would have no effect on domestic partnerships, they say.

It might seem easy to know if domestic partnerships are effected by the amendment: just look at it. But the heart of the dispute is the language of the amendment itself. Laws in Florida already ban same-sex marriages, but backers say Amendment 2 would put that language in the state's constitution. Florida Red & Blue campaign manager Derek Newton disagrees, saying that the language is, in fact, new and requires the government to decide what counts and what doesn't as marriage.

The text of the amendment reads: "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."

Yes2Marriage.org state chairman John Stemberger says that Amendment 2 is not a partisan issue - as opponents want it to appear from their ad - but rather a citizen initiative that has much wider support. The amendment's backers include the Florida Family Policy Council, of which Stemberger is president, as well as the Virginia-based Liberty Council, a public interest religious liberties law firm.

Because both sides argue over the meaning of the amendment it seems likely that if the amendment passes, interpreting it will wind up in court.

WATCH THE AD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vXgTY6kXVfi8

Analysis by Associated Press Writer Jessica Gresko

On the Net:
Florida Red & Blue's SayNo2 campaign

Yes2Marriage.org

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