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The Battle Over
Florida's Amendment 2 

The Battle Over
Florida's Amendment 2 

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In the midst of an ugly battle, something beautiful is happening in Florida. Despite a too-close-to call battle over Amendment 2 -- which would go further than California's Prop. 8 by stripping away all legal protections for unmarried couples, gay or straight -- LGBTs are organizing in hanging-chad, butterfly-ballot, nail-biter, presidential-election-decider Florida.

Florida may be on the brink of defeating Amendment 2.

All the latest polls show it is too close to call.

Phone bankers have reached hundreds of thousands of voters. Volunteers have swarmed community events. Vote No on 2 posters, yard signs, and bumper stickers are popping up in even the most conservative areas of the state. Coalition partners are hosting town halls, early voting parties, and television ads are hitting the airwaves.

Fifteen major newspapers have run editorials opposing the measure.

If you've seen Sarah Silverman's outrageous message asking younger Jewish voters to get their grandparents in Florida to vote for Obama, you'll understand that we need our own "great schlep"-style turnout effort nationwide to beat this amendment.

So welcome to "Phoning for Florida" or "Calling for Equality." If you grew up in Florida; know a college buddy or ex from Florida; have parents or grandparents who have retired here or have Facebook friends; anyone you know in the Sunshine State -- now is the time to call, e-mail, or IM them.

Yes, the vote is really that close.

We are talking about Florida. Hanging-chad, butterfly-ballot, nail-biter, presidential-election-decider Florida.

It doesn't matter where you live. If you want to brag that you helped make history, go to votenoon2.com/countdown and join the phone bank from anywhere to help us turn out the vote. Of course, we need your money too, and we've made it really easy to give quickly. A few bucks now for a lifetime of bragging rights. Such a deal.

That the far right would target Florida in a presidential election year with a hot-button political wedge issue was as predictable as a hurricane in September.

With a listless field of presidential candidates to choose from in the Republican primary, the Florida GOP put up $300,000 to ensure the so-called Marriage Protection Act made the ballot. But what Amendment 2 backers could not have been predicted was how quickly a broad coalition of opposition would coalesce to defeat the measure. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans leadership stepped up early, serving on the honorary board for the Fairness for All Families' VoteNoOn2.com campaign.

Faith, civil rights, unions, and student organizations across the state have come together like never before around an issue that harms everyone but so directly targets Florida's LGBT community.

We've been preparing for this since 2005, when the far right chose Valentine's Day to announce the launch of its petition drive.

What the far right didn't announce was how far-reaching the impact of the amendment would be. Not satisfied with denying same-sex couples access to marriage, it now planned on stripping away any legal protection for unmarried Floridians, gay or straight.

The far right counted on homophobia to keep skittish progressive groups from standing up, and it counted on partisanship to keep rational Republicans from saying "enough."

The far right miscalculated. Today, there are armies of volunteers in major cities across Florida, phone-banking and canvassing voters. Campus organizers have been rallying young voters like never before on more than a dozen major university campuses. Vote No on 2's Facebook page has enough fans to be ranked 37th in the world. Over 260 organizations who make up the Vote No on 2 coalition are reaching out to the millions of voters who make up their memberships.

When the election is over, we will have stronger alliances -- closer working relationships with the organizations that share our mission, vision, and values. The opposition expected to drive a wedge, but instead it has galvanized fair-minded progressives.

What happens in Florida matters everywhere, and we have many voters to reach before November 4.

These next three weeks will be a footrace to a photo finish, with Amendment 2 and likely the presidential election in the balance.

Would it hurt you to call?

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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