Marriage Amendment

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Right now, Florida law bans same sex marriages, but both sides of the issue are gearing up for the next major battle. That next battleground will involve the state Constitution.

Paul Fries recently sent letters and e-mails to pastors around the Panhandle to encourage their involvement in a major petition drive.

Paul Fries of the Holmes Baptist Association, says, "The Defense of Marriage Act is already being challenged in our courts in a number of different cases here in Florida. If it's approved constitutionally, then the legislator can't change it. Tallahassee can't change it. It's much more powerful."

If enough signatures are gathered it will allow voters to decided on a Constitution amendment that strengthens the definition of marriage.

The petition drive headed by a group called is trying to head off any more challenges to Florida's current law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Kent Lampp, Bethel Baptist Pastor, says, "We the taxpayers are going to have to pay the lawyer fees to defend these things if they bring it."

Several counties in Florida have already found themselves in court by trying to uphold this law, whether it's providing marriage licenses or honoring civil unions from other states.

"They went to Vermont and were provided a civil union, came back to the state, in our case, Florida, and then challenged our courts to make us recognize their marriage from Vermont.”

Massachusetts is currently the only state that has legalized gay marriage, while four other states do allow civil unions.

Supporters must collect the signatures of over 600,000 registered voters by next February to get the proposal on the November 2006 ballot.