The American Civil Liberties Union hosted a heated debate last night at the Temple Israel of Greater Miami. The topic: the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment -- in layman’s terms, a proposed amendment to Florida’s Constitution that would make gay marriage or civil unions illegal in Florida. Its proponents want to see the measure placed on November 2008 ballot.
Panelists consisted of two for each side of the argument including, Karen Doering, Senior Counsel for the National Centre for Lesbian Rights; Nadine Smith, Executive Director for Equality Florida; Rev. Nathaniel Wilcox, Associate Minister for the Apostle Revival Center; Jack Thompson Attorney and self-proclaimed staunchly conservative Evangelical Christian.
Yet despite moderator -- and infamous local journalist -- Jim DeFede’s initial assurance that the 50 or so (predominantly gay) people present would not be subjected to a screaming match, that’s inevitably what it turned into.
In an effort to expose the so-called truth behind the proposed amendment, speakers offered a brief outline of what they considered to be the merits of their argument, which ultimately spiraled into a religious debate about the morality of homosexuality.
Rev. Wilcox essentially said the amendment is necessary to prevent the state courts from allowing gay marriage -- which is nothing short of an abomination. “I love my mother,” he said in defense of his stance, “but I don’t have to get in bed with her to prove I love her!”
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Nadine Smith suggested the end result would negate the estimated 1500 benefits now afforded all civil unions.
And Thompson -- who began his tirade against gays by saying on behalf of Evangelicals everywhere, “we love you” -- went on to cite a recent United Nations report that detailed a drop in the number of marriages and children being born in Europe. Thompson attributed this decline to the legalization of gay marriage in "countries in the Netherlands, such as Belgium."
“Mr Thompson,” interrupted one concerned audience member, smoothing down his suit and rising to his feet, “Belgium is not in the Netherlands!” Joanne Green