Tim Hardaway the former NBA Miami Heat basketball star was the first to sign the Equal Marriage Florida petition on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. He was embroiled in controversy in 2007 after an anti-gay rant on a Miami radio show. In an attempt at redemption he attended classes at the YES institute in Miami. The mission of the YES institute is “to prevent suicide and ensure the healthy development of all youth through powerful communication and education on gender and orientation.” Hardaway also participated in a fundraising event for the Trevor Project in 2009.
Representatives for the group Equal Marriage Florida filed the required paperwork to begin the initiative to amend Article 1, Section 27 of the state’s constitution on June 21, 2013 in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA on June 26, 2013.
The definition of marriage in the Florida constitution was amended in 2008 after more than 60% of Florida residents voted for the Marriage Protection Act which states “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.”
The Equal Marriage Florida initiative proposes that Article 1, Section 27of the Florida constitution be amended to read “Only a legal union of two persons shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state.” The Equal Marriage Florida initiative also includes a religious freedom clause such that no religious organizations or representative would be required to officiate at a same sex marriage. The petition is available on the Equal Florida Marriage Website.
The initiative requires one million signatures by February 1, 2014 in order to appear on the November 2014 ballot. If the group is unable to obtain the required number of signatures by this date they will be able to continue gathering signatures until early 2016. Some supporters believe that it would be advantageous to continue to collect signatures and wait until the 2016 election. In the year of a presidential election, more voters-particularly young voters who would vote for such an initiative would be expected to show up to vote.
In a related story it is being reported by many news media including the Miami Herald that Equality Florida sent an email to supporters with a press release seeking same-sex couples as plaintiffs for a lawsuit against the state. In the press release, couples who may be interested are referred to the group’s Get Engaged website. However no information about the press release is available on this website.