To see their full statements, most of which are quite long, scroll all the way to the end of this report.
1:45 p.m. | Voters may be asked to repeal Florida ban on same-sex marriage
Activists aren’t sure about their course of action in Florida, where voters added a ban on gay marriage to the state Constitution in 2008. It received 62 percent of the vote statewide; 52 percent in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
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The big state gay rights group Equality Florida recently launched a “Get Engaged” campaign, a long-term effort to secure same-sex marriage rights in Florida.
But Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director, said she wasn’t sure if it would push for a change in the state Constitution in the November 2014 ballot. “We’re not committed to the 2014 ballot. But every option remains on the table,” she said before the court acted.
A Miami-based group calling itself Equal Marriage Florida is gearing up a campaign to get a question before voters in the 2014 governor’s election.
Changing the Florida Constitution requires 60 percent of the vote, and it’s unclear if there’s sufficient support to change the ban on gay marriage that voters added in 2008.
Of 500 Floridians surveyed in March by Public Policy Polling, 38 percent said gay couples should be allowed to legally marry, 37 percent said gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not marry, and 23 percent said there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
Other polls that ask about same-sex marriage and don’t offer a civil union option show higher support for gay marriage, but still short of 60 percent.
Moreover, in midterm elections between presidential contests, turnout slips – especially among Democrats. And Democrats are much bigger supporters of same-sex marriage than Republicans, whose turnout doesn’t slip as much.
1:39 p.m. | Palm Beach County lawyer, gay rights advocate reacts
Rand Hoch, founder and president of the gay rights group Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said the decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act is “pretty amazing, because it’s so broad.”
“The DOMA decision is brilliant,” he said.
Still, he said it leaves many unanswered questions, and doesn’t do anything to aid gay couples in Florida.
For example: “Two people who were married in New York or Massachusetts but moved to Florida, are they going to have to move back to New York or Massachusetts to get the full benefits?”
“People who just flew up to D.C. or flew out to California or Massachusetts or any other state, and they came back to Florida, even with the Supreme Court decision, they’re still roommates,” he said.
Though some activists are talking about efforts to ask voters to remove the ban on same-sex marriage from the Florida Constitution, Hoch is pessimistic about that happening. “The odds of Amendment 2 [the 2008 same-sex marriage ban] being repealed are extremely, extremely, extremely remote.”
“It’s very difficult to amend the Constitution,” he said. “You’re asking 60 percent of the Florida voters to decide to get rid of part of our Constitution…. I’m not optimistic that we’re going to be able to change it here in Florida. I think it’s going to be dependent on the United States Supreme Court.”
That means, Hoch said, it’s likely to be a long time before same-sex marriage becomes a reality in Florida. “It will be a while,” he said.
He said the Supreme Court might someday rule in this kind of case: The surviving widow or widower of a same-sex couple married in another state but living in Florida applies for Social Security or veterans benefits based on the deceased spouse.