Editor's Note: Kevin Flack is a 25 years old from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Kevin was compelled to come down from Canada to Florida to help fight against Amendment 2, the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" facing Florida voters.
I've always had an interest in U.S. law with regards to same-sex rights. This started years back- I'd say around 2005 when nationally the same-sex marriage issue was front and center in the Canadian media and I began to get involved with various groups including Canadians for Equal Marriage and EGALE Canada (Equality for Gays & Lesbians Everywhere). It would become a usual routine of mine to search the words "gay marriage" every day, and subsequently I would end up reading numerous articles on the subject and also began talking with many people on message boards.
I became fascinated with how the United States of America, a country that is supposed to be the land of the free (when really that only applies to a segment of the population) could treat a group of people so differently than another, and for no good reason. Even the most basic laws that we take for granted in Canada, comparable to ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), a federal Hate-Crimes law, hospital visitation, etc. I couldn't believe that such basic things like not being able to visit a loved one in the hospital weren't guaranteed simply because the state chose to discriminate. It became clear that gay and lesbian couples were having to hire lawyers for rights you would think would be guaranteed.
I also couldn't understand how easy it was for most states to be able to amend their Constitutions by only getting only 10% of the population to collect signatures... and the fact that it almost seems like "anything-goes" on these propositions. I'm a firm believer that the Constitution is there to protect rights and to never take them away. Even for those who would say same-sex marriage itself isn't a civil right for whatever reason, the Constitution still should never be amended to single out an entire group of the population. As Barack Obama has pointed out in the past, the Constitution has never defined marriage previously and it doesn't need to do so now.
I always wanted to go down to a state and volunteer to help in defeating an amendment. I joined the "NO On 2" group on Facebook and Cate Colgan, a gay rights activist and business entrepreneur, messaged me. We talked on the phone a few times and I had some time off so I decided I would come down to try and help out.
What also compelled me to come down was the fact that the amendment doesn't just ban same-sex marriage (as the proponents would flat-out lie) but it also bans any union that is "substantially equivalent" to that of marriage. This basically means that other unions, such as domestic partnerships- even for heterosexual couples, would no longer be recognized. In 2004, in Michigan, when voters there approved a ballot measure with similar language, the Michigan Supreme Court later ruled that the University could no longer offer health benefits to the partners of gay employees as this would be unconstitutional!
At a United Church service I attended last Sunday, which Cate and her partner Marty belong to, a woman explained how her friend's work already told him that if the amendment passes, his female domestic partner would no longer be able to receive health care benefits.
So far it has been an interesting ride at the phone banks, and especially at the polls engaging with voters. It isn't easy- and for me, it surprisingly has taken more out of me than I thought, but it is worth it to be able to help make a difference by helping to ensure voters know the direct consequences and effect of this horrible amendment.