Pam Bondi Draws Fire and Applause for Defending State's Traditional Marriage Law
Around the State
After Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi looked to defend the state constitutional amendment which ensures the recognition of only traditional marriage in the Sunshine State, activists from both sides looked to rally supporters on Monday.
Bondi filed a brief last week, defending the state’s marriage amendment which 62 percent of voters approved back in 2008. In the brief, Bondi maintained same-sex marriage "imposes significant public harm." Bondi also made the case for keeping only traditional marriage recognized in the public arena.
"The promotion of family continuity and stability is a legitimate state interest," Bondi argued. “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 into and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units."
Attorney John Stemberger, the president of the Florida Family Policy Council, cheered Bondi on Monday and tried to rally social and religious conservatives behind her. Stemberger had been a backer of then-Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp in the 2010 Republican primaries, including jabbing Bondi for living with a man she wasn’t married to.
“Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi is to be commended for her courageous and clear defense of Article I, Section 27 of the Florida Constitution,” Stemberger insisted on Monday. “The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment was passed by 62 percent in 2008 when about 5 million Florida voters, in an act of direct democracy, voted defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. In her legal brief to the court, Bondi nails the essence of government's rational basis and compelling interests in defining, protecting and defending marriage.
Slamming “activist judges across America” for “striking down marriage laws, creating new rights out of thin air that have no precedent in law or history,” Stemberger maintained that the judiciary was looking to thwart the will of the voters. “Federal judges are now even trying to strike down various state marriage amendments, thwarting the sovereign will of the people,” Stemberger insisted. “Leftist Obama-appointed judges are acting like the Constitution is Play Dough and can be manipulated irrespective of the plain text or the intent of the framers.
“Pam Bondi did not cower from the intimidation and lawsuit demands of gay rights activists,” Stemberger continued. “Instead, she and her office made some of the strongest arguments possible to protect Florida's marriage laws.”
On the other sides of the isle, Florida LGBT Democratic Caucus President Sally Phillips came out swinging at Bondi, claiming the attorney general made “homophobic comments.”
“Her claim that disrupting existing marriage laws ‘would cause significant harm’ is relying on debunked arguments and cites outdated information on Floridians' views on marriage equality in an attempt to have a federal judge throw out a lawsuit brought by eight legally married couples,” Phillips insisted. Despite insisting a “bipartisan majority of Floridians now support marriage equality,” Phillips chose to ignore the voter-passed amendment from 2008, claiming Bondi was following her own values instead of the law and arguing that Gov. Rick Scott was denying civil rights by following the state Constitution.
“Pam Bondi has it backward -- the only ‘significant harm’ being done here is to the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who are having their civil rights denied by the Scott administration,” Phillips claimed. “Even worse, Florida taxpayers are footing the bill for Bondi's rigid ideological crusade.
“Federal courts from Virginia to Oklahoma to Utah have ruled that bans on marriage equality violate the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution,” Phillips added. “Florida's ban on marriage equality will have its day in court on July 2nd, and we eagerly anticipate Florida joining the growing list of states across the nation that are embracing equality.”
Stemberger also noted the activities in other states and contrasted Bondi to other attorneys general across the nation who “are being intimidated and cowardly running from their sworn responsibility to defend the laws of this 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,” Stemberger insisted. “No elected offical is perfect. But in this case, if you are wondering what leadership looks like, look no further than Attorney General Pam Bondi, who did her job and articulately defended the people of Florida and their Constitution which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.