Petition to repeal same-sex marriage in Florida to be available to sign on Tuesday

Helping out the cause is 2012 Libertarian president candidate Gary Johnson, whose Our America Initiative is supporting such efforts in both Florida and Arizona.

“Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue its ruling on gay marriage. Many experts believe, as do I, it is highly likely that the court will return the issue of marriage rights to the states,” Johnson wrote supporters in an email sent out last month. “If and when that happens, we want to be ready to seize on public reaction and immediately begin gathering the signatures to put marriage equality on the ballot in these key states."

Brito worked on the successful effort to recall Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez back in 2011. She says it was a former colleague working with Johnson's group in Arizona who asked if she'd be willing to lead the charge in Florida.

But not everybody in the LGBT community is convinced that Floridians are ready to overturn the 2008 ban on same-sex marriage, at least not with a 60 percent margin.

"Logistically, 2014 is a huge challenge," Equality Florida's Nadine Smith told CL last week on WMNF's Last Call program. "We believe marriage equality is coming. It may come through the courts. It may come through the ballot box." Equality Florida is already exploring the courts as an option; in conjunction with its initiative, the organization sent out an email today seeking potential plaintiffs in "a Florida Marriage Lawsuit."

Orlando House Democrat Joe Saunders — one of the first openly gay officials elected to the state legislature in Florida (along with David Richardson) — agrees with Smith that 2014 feels like a "heavy lift."

Brito told CL that she spoke with representatives of Equality Florida (where she serves on the group's steering committee) Monday morning and is aware of their concerns. She says that Equal Marriage Florida will be doing some polling this week and will share those results with Equality Florida.

Once the language in the petition gets okayed by the state (which could happen on Monday night), the group will place it on its Web site, as well as having co-chairs in all Florida counties physically begin collecting the 681,000 signatures needed to qualify to get on the ballot by February 1, 2014.

  • Equal Marriage Florida's Vanessa Brito

Although not everyone in the LGBT community thinks Florida is ready to pass a constitutional amendment repealing its ban on same-sex marriage in 2014, organizers with Equal Marriage Florida are going all out in an effort to get the more than 681,000 signatures needed by next February to do so.

With a threshold of 60 percent required for any citizen-generated amendment, the odds are formidable, especially when it comes to repealing a measure that was supported by a 62-48 percent margin less than five years ago. And mid-term elections, like the one coming up in 2013, historically have attracted more conservative voters than liberals.

But with momentum swinging dramatically to their side, advocates of repealing the ban on same-sex marriage say now is the time to push for marriage equality in the Sunshine State.

"We have to really think what is going to get us the most bang for our buck," asks Vanessa Brito, the Miami-based activist who is co-chair of the group.

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