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Florida high court allows same-sex ban ballot initiative, strikes down redistricting

[JURIST] The Florida Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday released an advisory opinion [PDF text] to the state Attorney General that permits the 2008 ballot to contain a citizen initiative banning gay marriages, even though the initiative failed to collect enough petition signatures to place the constitutional amendment on the 2006 ballot. According to the ACLU, which brought the initiative challenge [ACLU case profile] on behalf of a labor union and six same-sex couples, the amendment would define marriage as "the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife," excluding official recognition of all other arrangements, including civil unions and corresponding domestic partner benefits. The ACLU challenged the initiative on the grounds that it violates the constitutional single-subject requirement of all Florida ballot initiatives, as it bans both gay marriages as well as all other legal protections for same-sex couples. 365Gay.com has more.

The Florida Supreme Court also released an advisory opinion [PDF text] on Thursday striking down another citizen ballot initiative that would create an "independent nonpartisan commission" to oversee congressional redistricting [advocacy website], as opposed to the current system run by the state legislature. The ruling found the initiative violated the single-subject requirement, as it required both single-member legislative districts as well as the establishment of the commission. Justices noted in both opinions that they were ruling not on the constitutional merits of the initiatives themselves, but only on whether they met constitutional requirements to appear on the ballots. AP has more.

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