The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week in two major cases that put the issue of same-sex marriage before the nation.
It’s an issue that has divided Floridians.
Gay marriage is now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, as well as Canada, Argentina, much of Mexico, parts of Europe and South Africa. Thirty-eight states, including Florida, have anti-gay marriage laws or constitutional amendments banning recognition of same-sex weddings.
In 2008, a clear majority of Florida voters, 62-38 percent, approved the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Supporters argued it was needed to protect the “traditional” institution of marriage and families by promoting homes with a mom and a dad, not two moms or two dads.
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Recent polls suggest Florida and the nation are changing.
A poll released last month by Public Policy Polling found that 75 percent of Floridians favor allowing gay couples to legally wed or form civil unions. Twenty-three percent responded that gay couples should not be legally recognized.
Another poll by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found that more than half of Americans (52 percent) and half of Floridians (also 52 percent) approved of gay and lesbian couples being allowed to legally tie the knot.
The Miami Herald sought the opinions of readers by asking if their opinions on same-sex marriage had changed over time. The respondents are part of the Public Insight Network, which helps The Herald explore timely issues in the news.
Here’s a sampling of the comments:
ROBERT BURR, OF CORAL GABLES
“I’ve changed my views over time on gay issues. The balance between what makes me uncomfortable or my personal preferences versus a person’s right to fair treatment under the law has tilted in favor of fairness over preference.”
JOSUE MATOS, OF BRISTOL (FLORIDA PANHANDLE)
“I’ve gone from not thinking about it at all to not caring to now seeing it as something I do not believe is good for a society to accept. The more it has become an issue, the more I’ve had to decide that I needed to pick a side.”
“In principle, I always thought that the morals or religious views of most in society were not a good reason to limit the freedoms of the few. But as more of the logical, legal and practical reasons started becoming clearer in the last years, my views supporting gay marriage have been reinforced.”
GREG BITO, OF MIAMI
“I never considered it an issue, well, I never considered it at all until it hit the headlines. I was always ‘told’ that a marriage was between a man and a woman, but rather than listening to what other people say, if I listen to my heart, I think that gay marriage should be accepted as a union between two people that have pledged their love.”
PAUL STEIN, OF COOPER CITY
“I have always been in favor of same-sex couples. I have known several [gay] people in the travel industry over my career and would rather see someone who is devoted to their partner and not have the usual child support issues.”
“I’ve long thought that preventing same-sex marriages is the same as preventing interracial marriages."
“Our ideas about marriage have evolved. I came to realize that if two consenting adults want to create a permanent bond in a loving relationship, then they should be given that right.”
OF SOUTH MIAMI
“I have always supported gay marriage because same-sex couples do not have the same basic rights as opposite-sex couples do. It is unfair and unjust.”