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Florida coalition campaigns to include marriage definition in Constitution
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.- A coalition of conservative and Christian groups launched a petition Feb. 14 for an amendment to the Florida Constitution to ban same-sex marriage in 2006, reported the Miami Herald. The Orlando-based Liberty Counsel heads the campaign. The public interest law firm drafted the amendment. Other coalition members include the Florida Catholic Bishops, the Florida Baptist Association, the Florida Family Association, and the Christian Coalition.

The group must gather 611,001 valid signatures by February 2006 and win approval for the amendment's language by the Florida Supreme Court before it can go on the November 2006 ballot.

Florida law already bans same-sex marriage, but the proposed amendment would prevent future courts from striking the law down.

Gov. Jeb Bush questioned the need for the amendment.

“I'm not sure we have a problem,” Bush reportedly said. “Gay marriages are banned in our state, and if I could be convinced there are looming court cases that will undermine that statute, or the [federal] law . . . then I would consider being supportive of it. But I have not been convinced of it.”

He told the Herald that if there were a problem with the law, he would prefer to have it addressed by the Legislature, not through a citizen petition drive.

Five lawsuits are pending that challenge Florida’s Defense of Marriage Act, passed by the Legislature in 1997.

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