WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- How did we end up with Pam Bondi as the state’s ardent defender of traditional marriage?
Seriously. Even for Florida, this is embarrassing.
When Bondi ran for Florida attorney general four years ago, she had to overcome the state’s self-appointed morality police, better known at the Florida Family Policy Council, which opposed her, in part, due to her love life.
“She has no children and lives with her 60-year-old eye doctor boyfriend,” council president John Stemberger wrote his members, urging them not to vote for the 44-year-old Bondi.
I guess the point of mentioning her boyfriend’s age was to alert the Florida Family Policy Council members that the state’s top lawyer shouldn’t be a twice-divorced and childless woman living in sin with a guy old enough to qualify as a sugar daddy.
At the time, I stuck up for Bondi, and mocked the Jezebel treatment she was getting.
“None of this has anything to do with being a good attorney general,” I wrote. “It’s just morality policing aimed at sleeper-cell primary voters.”
Bondi overcame the attack on her marital status. And now as the state’s attorney general, she has a leadership role in such matters, and a real chance to demonstrate a kind of 21st-century maturity on the issue of government meddling into people’s love lives.
But she turned out to be just another regressive moral scold.
When eight same-sex couples sued Florida in federal court for not recognizing their marriages performed in states where same-sex marriage is legal, Bondi filed a court document last month opposing the gay couples in a spirited way.
She wrote that “disrupting Florida’s existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm.”
Six years ago, Florida voters passed the Florida Marriage Protection Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But since then, 19 states have recognized gay marriages, and federal courts in many states — including Oklahoma, Kentucky, Virginia, Idaho and Texas — have ruled that gay marriage bans are unconstitutional.
Gay marriage is rapidly becoming a civil right, and at this point, the “significant public harm” is being done by states like Florida that cling to constitutionally problematic bans. You’d think Bondi might understand this, especially considering her own non-traditional love life.
But instead, she’s all-in on intolerance.
“The promotion of family continuity and stability is a legitimate state interest,” Bondi wrote. “Florida’s marriage laws, then, have a close, direct and rational relationship to society’s legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.”
What does Bondi know about enduring family units? Or properly nurtured children?
How have society’s legitimate interests been served by her relationships? Her two childless marriages lasted a total of eight years.
And two years ago, when she and her 62-year old boyfriend went to the Cayman Islands to get married, they decided, instead, to make it a party without getting married, turning it into an “unofficial (nobinding) ceremony,” according to her Wikipedia page.
The sanctity of shacking up was preserved.
Which is fine. I don’t care about Bondi’s marital ambivalence, and I wouldn’t be mentioning if it she hadn’t been busy putting up roadblocks to other people’s loving commitments while making the sorts of regressive moral arguments that used to be made against her.
It’s the kind of shameless behavior that only makes sense when you consider the politics.
You see, it’s another election season. And Bondi’s stand guarantees that her re-election chances in November won’t be opposed again by the Florida Family Research Council.
Here’s Stemberger, the same guy who knocked her in 2010, praising her for jumping into the current federal lawsuit:
“In a day when attorney generals around the country are being intimidated and cowardly running from their sworn responsibility to defend the laws of their country and her states, Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi stands as an example of courage and responsible stewardship of her authority as the highest law enforcement officer in the state,” the president of the Florida Family Research Council wrote in an email to his members on Monday.
“If you are wondering what leadership looks like, look no further than Attorney General Pam Bondi,” Stemberger wrote.
Pam Bondi, leading the way for traditional marriage in Florida.
Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post.
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