Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo
The presidential race isn’t the only political issue concerning voters as they prepare for November’s election.
Dozens of political activists concerned about the sanctity of marriage were out Saturday at major intersections throughout Collier County, spreading the word about Amendment 2.
Southwest Florida residents holding signs reading “yes 2 marriage; yes on 2” were as far south as Marco Island and as far north as Bonita Beach Road, hoping to garner honks of approval by passersby.
Similar events were scheduled throughout the state to inform people about Amendment 2.
The proposed amendment, also known as the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, states that “marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife.”
It also states “no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”
Florida law now makes gay or same-sex marriages illegal.
Some organizations, including Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), oppose the amendment because it will take away rights from domestic partners, both gay and straight, said Gabrielle Gilmore, the organization’s Naples-area president.
That argument didn’t deter the sign-wielders throughout Southwest Florida.
“We’re not trying to change anything. We’re just trying to nail it down by adding it to our constitution so a judge can’t change it,” explained Andrew McGuire, 42, of Marco Island’s San Marco Catholic Church as he hammered a sign reading “Yes on 2” into the grass.
McGuire was joined by 10 other members of his church who handed out pamphlets to passersby at the intersection of Bald Eagle Drive and Collier Boulevard, urging them to amend the Florida Constitution.
McGuire came with four of his children, ages 2 to 11, along with church members as old as 83 sweltering in the midday sun near a sign reading “Honk if you are for marriage.”
“Only mad dogs, Englishmen and concerned Christians go out in the noon-day sun,” said Islander Patricia D’Ambrosio, 79, supporting the new amendment.
Joe Kilroy, 83, and Marie Kilroy, 82, said they heard about the efforts from San Marco Catholic Church. The couple, married 52 years, stood on the hot pavement to show that they “very much support marriage.”
Janet Knudson, 61, encouraged voters to inform themselves on the issue and expressed her support for Amendment 2.
“I’m against gay marriage and the direction of the gay community... I think it’s sad we even need an amendment about a state of being in life that has been held sacred for people through the centuries,” Knudson said.
Adrian Michell, 58, stood near the intersection of Goodlette-Frank and Pine Ridge roads, braving the sun with Joe Hennessy, 75, where each held up a banner that said “Yes on 2” and “honk if you support marriage.”
Florida’s existing law that marriage is between a man and a woman needs to be protected in the Florida Constitution, Michell said.
The fear is that the existing Florida law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman will get shot down by a judge, similar to what happened in California and Massachusetts.
“We want it enshrined in the constitution,” Michell said. “I think it is getting a lot of support. It basically stands up to the human psyche that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Lou DePrisco, 77, a member of St. William Catholic Church with Michell, held up the American flag at the small rally.
“I like to do that,” he said of holding up the flag.
He’s confident the amendment will pass once people realize its intent.
“It is so basic to our culture,” he said. “That’s not to say other people should not have rights but marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Saturday’s activists represented several Collier County churches, including St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in East Naples, First Baptist Church in North Naples, St. Agnes Mission Catholic Church in North Naples and St. Ann Catholic Parish in Naples.
Voters may expect to hear more about Amendment 2 before they hit the polls in November.
“This is a very dangerous amendment. Domestic partnerships will be done away with across the state affecting people’s benefits,” said Doug Ball, co-chair of Southwest Florida Fairness for All Families.
Ball said he interprets the language differently and suggests voters should vote “no” on their ballots.
“If you really want to protect marriage, eliminate divorce,” said Ruth Dorfman, PFLAG vice president, adding that the government “does not belong in relationships among consenting adults.”
Amendment 2 needs approval from 60 percent of Florida voters to pass.