Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers:

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

A round-up of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers:

Tampa Bay Times — Same-sex ruling a victory for fairness, equality

The U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage Friday strengthens the country’s commitment to ensure equality for all Americans. The ruling invalidates same-sex marriage bans that remained in 14 states and compassionately grants all spouses anywhere the same access and benefits assigned to traditional marriages. The court’s decision represents America at its finest and solidifies the right of all citizens to enjoy the fundamental privileges afforded them by the Constitution.

Leaning heavily on the equal protection and due process clauses, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the 14th Amendment guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. Kennedy argued that marriage is “a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person.” Joined in the 5-4 decision by the more liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Kennedy also noted that the role of the court is to interpret the Constitution against the backdrop of modern realities that the nation’s founders could not have imagined.

“The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest. With that knowledge must come the recognition that laws excluding same-sex couples from the marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.”

In practical terms, the ruling secures for same-sex spouses in Florida and throughout the nation the same rights afforded to spouses in heterosexual marriages. They include benefits ranging from hospital access and medical decisionmaking to adoption rights, health insurance and probate issues. The decision also eliminates the need for same-sex couples to navigate a patchwork of state laws and ends challenges to lower court rulings in favor of gay marriages, including a misguided effort in Florida backed by Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott.

It is stunning to see how quickly and how much the cultural landscape has evolved on same-sex marriage. According to a Gallup poll in May, 60 percent of all Americans support marriage equality, a 36 percent increase from 2010. From the Rose Garden on Friday, President Barack Obama said the ruling “made our union a little more perfect,” marking a capstone to his administration’s efforts to extend benefits to same-sex couples who are federal employees. And supporters of all ages, races and religions celebrated outside the Supreme Court in a moving display of unity in support of a ruling whose time had come.

The Bradenton Herald — Manatee County dodges what appeared to be an alarming Citizens Property rate hike

This week’s announcement from the state-run Citizens Property Insurance that premiums would rise by a statewide average of 3.2 percent. Thursday’s report in the Herald also noted that coastal homeowners would be hit with an average multi-peril rate increase of 8.6 percent and condominium owners are in line for an average 10.2 percent premium hike.

That likely alarmed homeowners on Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and other coastal communities.

But Citizens chief risk officer, John Rollins, told Citizens board members, “Nobody pays the average.”

In a bit of a surprise, Manatee County policyholders will instead enjoy a rate reduction of anywhere between 9.8 percent and 5 percent, according to the company’s recommendation. The proposal must be approved by Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.

Steep premium increases are focused on South Florida because of a current surge in water damage claims and the large number of valuable homes packed into hurricane-vulnerable areas.

Manatee County’s bonus from Citizens comes as a welcome relief in the wake of large federally mandated rate increases from the National Flood Insurance Program for properties in flood zones along rivers, bays, and lakes, and, of course, the Gulf of Mexico.

The new rate structure, implemented this year on April Fool’s Day, boosts premiums for primary homeowners by an average of 10 percent annually, and secondary vacation-home owners will average 18 percent, both with surcharges adding to the bill.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Keep promise to B-CU nursing students

A college education, in many ways, is a promise. It’s a pledge to the students, many of whom will leave school carrying heavy debt, that they have gained the skills they need to perform well in their chosen field. And it’s a commitment to the people that student will encounter in his professional life, that he is prepared to take on the duties of his new role.

When that education is in nursing, the stakes are high — both for students and the patients they will encounter. And for nursing students at Bethune-Cookman University, the promise of a high-quality, rigorous education isn’t being kept.

In 2014, barely half of B-CU nursing students passed their state licensing exams. The school is on notice from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing that it could be stripped of its credentials. If that happens, Bethune-Cookman nursing students could be forced to change majors or switch schools.

Bethune-Cookman officials are fighting back — in the right way, by making the program more rigorous. Under the leadership of Sandra Tucker, hired in 2014 as the university’s new nursing dean, the program now requires students to pass a three-component curriculum that covers nursing theory, practical application and an exam. In the past, students who failed at one of the three components could still pass. Now, they must succeed in all three areas.

The Florida Times-Union — Redevelopment of Hogans Creek area needs more support

What the St. Johns Riverkeeper has done for Northeast Florida’s major natural resource, Groundworks Jacksonville hopes to do for redevelopment.

That means aggressive advocacy and rallying support for restoring Jacksonville’s ignored and forgotten urban gems.

The best illustration of this is something called the Emerald Necklace, the network of creeks and riverfront property that link urban neighborhoods near downtown.

These areas have been plagued with toxic waste. The creeks are so polluted there are warning signs. Once proud landmarks have just enough magic left that you don’t need much imagination to appreciate what could happen.

Rallying neighborhood support will be a key for the Eastside. It has as much poverty as any neighborhood in Jacksonville but less attention. For instance, Eastside lost out to New Town as the site of Jacksonville’s success zone.

Groundworks USA is a nonprofit that has had remarkable success turning around areas like Jacksonville’s Hogans Creek neighborhoods.

Dawn Emerick, the CEO of Groundworks Jacksonville, said the fledging group is looking to start small, accumulate easy wins and someday spread to other areas.

They will use the template of management guru Jim Collins from good to great fame: find out what they do best, define their passion and see what fits with funding.

Florida Today – The case for saving Green Gables

They call the historic but weather-ravaged house Green Gables.

Built in 1896 in the frontier town of Melbourne, it sat vacant and forgotten for a decade behind brush and palms off U.S. 1. But Green Gables burst into the news last year when the family that owns the house applied for a city demolition permit. That triggered community outcry and a new crusade to save it.

To learn what makes the place special, I explored its rooms and grounds and met leaders of a group trying to buy and restore the property.

I interviewed Carol Andren, president of Green Gables at Historic Riverview Village Inc. We sat on the home’s dilapidated porch overlooking the Indian River, just outside a parlor lined with ornamental wooden fretwork and broken plaster walls.

Question: What’s the story behind this place?

Andren: It was built as a winter home by the William and Nora Wells family. They had another home in New York State and had three children.

They became very much a part of the Melbourne community, among the first members of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. William Wells had a team of horses and helped move Holy Trinity from its first site across Crane Creek — when there was no bridge, if you can imagine — up to a second location somewhere on Fee Avenue.

They built an auditorium here and were instrumental in building the first library.

The Gainesville Sun – Cheers and Jeers

The U.S. Supreme Court deserves a massive cheer for this week advancing the progress made on two important issues.

Cheer: The court, for ruling in favor of marriage equality as well as upholding a major part of the Affordable Care Act.

The 5-4 decision for same-sex marriage rightly allows gay couples to share in the same rights as heterosexual couples. Same-sex marriage became legal in Florida in January, but 13 states still maintained bans.

The court also ruled 6-3 to uphold Affordable Care Act subsidies for health coverage in states that failed to set up their own insurance exchanges. The ruling saves the subsidies of the 1.32 million Floridians who obtained them, but unfortunately our state has done nothing for the more than 800,000 residents in a coverage gap.

Jeer: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, for approving the first hunt of black bears in the state in more than two decades.

Commission officials conceded they don’t even know the size of the state’s bear population. The species was legally protected until 2012.

Cheer: The Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network and its supporters, for this week opening a new gated campus for abuse survivors. Construction was funded through a $3 million state grant secured with a $1 million match from local veterinarian Jay Dutton and oncologist Paul Schilling, both members of the Peaceful Paths board.

Jeer: Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott, for slashing arts and culture funding 47 percent in the state budget signed by the governor this week.

The Hippodrome Theater had its funding cut by $75,000, according to an official there.

The Lakeland Ledger — Marco Rubio’s ‘Doctrine’: Senator’s Foreign Policy

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the seemingly countless Republican presidential hopefuls, recently enjoyed some legislative success with the enactment of the Girls Count Act.

The bill, which President Barack Obama signed on June 12, would direct foreign aid that America sends to developing countries toward encouraging leaders in those realms to ensure that girls get birth certificates.

Much of the Third World appears to lack the desire, skills, or technology for the type of meticulous record-keeping found throughout the Western world. As a result, according to Rubio, some 51 million children, most of them girls, do not get birth certificates, and hence are vulnerable to simply becoming invisible to government administrators in foreign lands.

The corrective to this “massive problem,” Rubio said recently, is targeting foreign aid toward “helping all kids get registered so we can make sure every child worldwide is counted and able to fully participate in and contribute to their societies.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and exhibited evidence of broad bipartisan support with no apparent opposition. The measure also had the backing of nongovernmental groups such as UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking and the Girl Up Campaign.

The Miami Herald — Finally!

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gay marriage Friday represents a far-reaching civil-rights victory ensuring that no American will be denied equality in law and the security of marriage simply because of who they are. Put this one in the win column for American couples who up to now were relegated to second-class citizenship because they could not marry the loving partner of their choice.

One day earlier, the court’s majority turned back a challenge to the equally expansive Affordable Care Act. Friday’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, however, is greater in constitutional scope and more far-reaching and meaningful in terms of its impact on society.

The Obamacare decision affirmed existing law, while the decision on gay marriage expands constitutional protections and recognizes, for the first time, that same-sex couples who marry are entitled to the same dignity as others. In social and civil-rights terms, it’s a quantum leap forward.

In Florida, the issue was joined six months ago when a federal judge struck down the state ban on marriage by same-sex couples. The state fought the ruling, but on Friday Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi, who spearheaded the appellate effort, accepted the legal defeat and the finality of the Supreme Court’s decision:

“Today the United States Supreme Court provided the clarity our state and country was seeking. … Legal efforts were not about personal beliefs or opinions, but rather, the rule of law. The United States Supreme Court has the final word on interpreting the Constitution, and the court has spoken.”

The fact that the Supreme Court’s decision was foreshadowed by the near-unanimity of lower courts does not detract from the importance of the ruling. More than 50 lower courts decided in favor of marriage equality after the high court’s justices struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Friday’s ruling was the logical outcome of a long legal process, but by no means guaranteed given the deep ideological division on the court.

The ruling became necessary after the majority of states — but not all — approved same-sex marriage, creating an untenable social and legal situation: Gay couples could marry in the 36 states where 70 percent of Americans live, but not in the remainder.

This raised a host of vexing issues. Could a couple marry in one state and move to another state where that right was not recognized? Could gay couples marry in one state and divorce in another that did not recognize gay marriage?

Then there were the tax and personal-finance complications posed by the tenuous situation of gay marriage. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority decision: “By virtue of their exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage. This harm results in more than just material burdens. Same-sex couples are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives.”

Exactly right. The majority opinion declared, in effect, that the state has no compelling reason to deny marriage to same-sex couples. Now, the same rights are recognized in all states. The decision was issued at 10 a.m. By 1 p.m., even some courts in Alabama were issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Finally.

The Orlando Sentinel — Rebel flag shouldn’t wave over land of free

In the late 1940s, as blacks rallied to clip Jim Crow’s wings, the South rose, again. To protest a present they couldn’t abide, segregationists enlisted an icon of sedition past — the Confederate flag.

Decades later, Dylann Roof swaddled his hatred of blacks in it. On June 17, he massacred the Emanuel Nine, an atrocity that marshaled many Americans to unite against the venerated Southern icon that symbolized his — and others’ — rabid hate. Finally.

In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley looks to lower the battle flag that unfurled on Statehouse grounds three years before Congress nixed segregation in public places. Locally, Organize Now petitioners hope to evict a statue honoring Confederate soldiers from Lake Eola Park.

Similarly, Florida Rep. Kathy Castor wants to dishonorably discharge Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith — one of Florida’s two statues at the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol — and “turn the page on a terrible chapter in America’s history.”

You’ve heard the opposition’s counter fire: Heritage, not hate.

That’s tricky to reconcile with facts. As Alexander H. Stephens, Confederate veep, decreed in his pre-Civil War “Cornerstone” speech, the mutinous nation’s underpinning was slavery and odium of captive blacks.

The “corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural … condition. … [O]ur new government, is the first … based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

We sympathize with Southerners driven to honor fallen ancestors. They cling to the half-truth inscribed on the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery that the insurgents fought “in simple Obedience to duty As they understood it ….”

The other truth is, duty or not, they also marched behind the battle flag toward a nation where for blacks, in Stephens’ words, “Subordination is his place.”

The Ocala StarBanner — The buying of Blue Springs

We are always thrilled when we see that another major Florida spring has hope of being saved from degradation. That said, Blue Springs in Gilchrist County is one step closer to being a state park. Too bad state lawmakers pulled a fast one with the money that could have made it happen.

The state’s Acquisition and Restoration Council unanimously voted to add the popular swimming hole in Gilchrist County, one county due west of Alachua County, to the list of springs slated to be bought with Florida Forever funds.

There’s just one problem: Florida Forever had its funding slashed from around $300 million to next to nothing in recent years. State voters thought they were restoring that funding when a whopping 75 percent of them passed Amendment 1 in the fall.

Instead, the Legislature pulled the same shell game that it did with the Lottery. Just like they used Lottery funds as a substitute for general fund dollars rather than providing new money for education, lawmakers spent most of the Amendment 1 money on existing programs, salaries and items of dubious environmental value such as insurance premiums.

Of the $740 million allocated through the amendment in the state budget, $227.1 million was dedicated to existing agency operations, according to an analysis from the group that put Amendment 1 on the ballot. Just $15.1 million was set to be spent on Florida Forever, the state’s main land conservation program.

The analysis came before Gov. Rick Scott signed the budget and vetoed a record amount of line-item spending from it. In his veto message, Scott wrote that he was rejecting millions of dollars in projects so that more money could be spent next year on environmental programs such as Florida Forever.

The Pensacola News-Journal — Take down all our flags

The horrific killing of nine people in a church in South Carolina has devolved into an appalling mixture of political opportunism and political panic – over a piece of fabric.

The race of those slaughtered has tempted some to make a gruesome killing into a tawdry partisan issue. Yes, the political party responsible for placing those flags in various locations (Democrat) now tries to blame the party that supervised the defeat of the misbegotten nation it flew over (Republican) for present political advantage. But let’s not dwell on that. It is enough to say that the current controversy is ignorant of history and bankrupt of any moral authority, and on all sides.

I won’t speak about any flags but those I know. Five flags have flown over my city: British, French, Spanish, Confederate and the United States. These flags are our history – but we do not fly them for honor. That is the false history – a tool denying history for low political agendas. All the five flags represent one thing – and the same thing.

“Slavery!” they say, “we cannot honor a flag of slavery!” Fair enough, but then you must take them all down. All of them condoned slavery under their rule … including the United States. But if we just limit our history to Pensacola – and though Spain condoned slavery elsewhere at other times – Spain did free slaves fleeing here when it last ruled. So, if a flag purified of the memory of slavery (in Pensacola) is what you seek, only the flag of His Most Catholic Majesty, King of Spain can rightfully fly here.

With grave declaration we have hauled down one flag of slavery – and left all the rest flying. How noble. How foolish. But we have hauled it down.

The Palm Beach Post — High court ruling a victory for marriage equality

Florida’s ban on gay marriage has had harsh consequences.

Same-sex couples living in Florida have been unable to administer a partner’s estate or make health care decisions without a legal power of attorney. A surviving spouse could not even be listed on the death certificate as such. Nor could they adopt a child together. If they were married in other states, they could not get divorced under Florida law.

But those inequities should all be over now.

With its landmark ruling on Friday in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court has declared that gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the 5-4 majority, said that state prohibitions violate the 14th Amendment’s “due process” and “equal protection” clauses.

“No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy wrote, “for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

 “(The petitioners) ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Indeed, all Americans are entitled to equal treatment and equal justice under the law. The Supreme Court not only can, but should, strike down laws that disadvantage people based on who they are. The high court justices may be late to this issue, but they showed again how reinforcing basic constitutional freedoms and equalities for everyone strengthens all of us and our nation.

Yet in the wake of the historic decision, supporters of same-sex marriage bans continue the same tired arguments.

The Panama City News-Herald — Two $10 bills are better than one

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has learned that — in an era of debit and credit cards, with smartphones used as payment devices — the best way to draw attention to the appearance of old-fashioned paper currency is to change its design.

Lew is not just looking at any redesign, but one that could displace the prominent portrait of Alexander Hamilton, a founder of both the United States and the national banking system — and the first secretary of the Treasury.

Two years ago, the Treasury Department announced it would redesign the $10 note, scheduled for completion in 2020. The bill was last redesigned in 2006; only the $5 and $100 bills have been changed more recently.

The Second Legal Tender Act of 1862 delegates to the secretary the final decision on currency design. Lew made clear last week that the new ten-spot will prominently bear the image of a woman. It will mark the first time a woman is depicted on any U.S. paper currency.

The secretary’s announcement generated debate. Yesterday, Ben Bernanke, the former chief of the Federal Reserve, chimed in, saying he would be “appalled” if Hamilton’s portrait is removed from the bill.

The Treasury Department’s website states, “Secretary Lew has made clear that the image of Alexander Hamilton will remain part of the $10 note. There are many options for continuing to honor Hamilton. While one option is producing two bills, we are exploring a variety of possibilities.”

It’s long past time for the paper currency of the United States to recognize the contributions of women to our country. Since the Treasury has linked finalization of the redesign to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, it would be embarrassing if a woman is not to be featured on the bill.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel – Yes, these are the sounds of change

In just two weeks, the country has shifted. It still hasn’t shifted enough, but it has shifted in ways that were unimaginable when President Obama took office.

For the second time, a Supreme Court with a Republican-appointed majority upheld the Affordable Care Act. After what Obama called “decades of trying” to change a system that covered too few, cost too much and failed too often, the United States has its first major health care reform since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid a half-century ago. Obama campaigned on reform in 2008, calling it an economic issue as much as a health care issue.

A supposedly dysfunctional Washington also passed the nation’s first major trade program in two decades. Obama can begin fast-track negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership because a Democratic president and congressional Republicans cooperated to overcome opposition from within their own parties. Obama has tried throughout his presidency to shift America’s focus to Asia, even as the Middle East keeps pulling us back.

A massacre in South Carolina so shocked the country’s collective sensibility that the state’s governor called for removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds. Like other Deep South states, South Carolina revived the flag during the civil rights movement as a symbol of defiance on race. Defenders call the flag Southern heritage. By posing with it before he allegedly murdered nine African-Americans in their church, Dylann Storm Roof affirmed that the flag is about racism, not heritage.

And, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court — however narrowly — ruled that in a nation founded on rights, states cannot deny rights to people just because of whom they love. The decision came two years after the court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In 2008, when 51 percent of Florida voters gave the state to Obama, 62 percent of them banned same-sex marriage. By April 2014, a poll found that 56 percent of Floridians opposed the ban. A month ago, support for same-sex marriage nationwide hit a record 60 percent.

These developments have been swift. However jolting to some, they are disruption with a sound purpose. To quote the abolitionist Frederick Douglass: “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.”

These shifts also are likely to last. Republicans calling for repeal of the health care law are just tossing chum to primary voters. Too much of the country will be invested in the law by 2017, even if a Republican wins. States will have the option starting that year of applying for waivers to achieve the law’s goals using their own approaches. That’s a better option for Florida than continued resistance.

The Tallahassee Democrat – A bit of hope for troubled veterans survives veto

Gov. Rick Scott’s record $461 million in budget vetoes last week included some painful cuts for programs serving veterans.

One little item that got through unscathed, though, can make a big difference for some deserving people. Scott approved funding for veterans courts in a few more counties.

There is $125,000 for Leon County, which has already conducted three diversion events for former service members whose troubles may be related to their time in uniform. The Florida Veterans Foundation and some other service groups have periodically organized “stand downs,” out at the fairgrounds, where veterans can go to find out about housing, medical benefits, legal advice and financial services they might qualify for.

About 60 local lawyers volunteered to advise veterans on all sorts of civil and criminal matters.

Many have legal troubles ranging from child-support orders to drug addiction, so the stand-down events have included court hearings. Circuit Judge Ron Flury held court in a big tent during the stand downs.

Claude Shipley, a retired Army officer who’s on the foundation board, said that in this area’s latest stand down April 24-26 at the fairgrounds, 28 veterans appeared before Flury. He said 24 had fines converted to community service, one got his driving license restored and another had probation dates changed.

The other two couldn’t resolve their legal travails at that time.

Now, with the state funding, the circuit will be able to formalize the veterans court operation. Judge Augustus Aikens, a retired colonel, is in line to succeed Flury in the vets court.

The budget item Scott spared provided $750,000 to be spread equally among Okaloosa, Pasco, Pinellas, Escambia and Clay counties. Duval and Orange got $200,000 each and Leon got $125,000. Leon and Escambia are the new additions.

“We’re not trying to get in front of the courts, in terms of what they do,” said Washington Sanchez, another retired Army colonel who chairs the Florida Veterans Foundation. “We are happy to get the appropriation to help veterans who get caught up in the system.”

The foundation provides volunteers, at no cost to the taxpayers, to work with offenders whose cases are diverted to veterans court. Having a mentor for a middle-aged man may seem incongruous, but some of these clients just need someone who cares enough to make sure they complete their court-ordered community service, keep appointments with parole officers and attend their AA meetings.

The Tampa Tribune — Court recognizes public shift on gay marriage and homosexuality

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Constitution protects same-sex marriage may be based on somewhat shaky legal ground.

As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent, the five justices affirming that right “have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.”

Nevertheless, the ruling recognizes the nation’s rapidly changing attitudes on homosexuality and marriage that surely would have resulted in widespread approval of gay marriage, regardless of the court’s decision.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, which was supported by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, pointed out the public evolution on homosexuality:

“Well into the 20th century, many States condemned same-sex intimacy as immoral, and homosexuality was treated as an illness.”

Such views, he wrote, shifted with public and private dialogue.

Indeed, consider Florida, where a little more than six years ago 60 percent of voters endorsed a state constitutional amendment that limited marriage to a man and a woman. It is a safe bet that it would receive nowhere near that kind of support today.

President Obama, who once opposed gay marriage, praised the court’s finding.

Many conservatives, particularly those with libertarian views, have come to support gay marriage as a matter of individual liberty.

Many individuals have religious objections to gay marriage, and their views deserve respect. But they should remember that our diverse nation allows many activities that are condemned by some religions.

We doubt politicians calling for a constitutional amendment to undo the court’s decision will make much headway. Young voters, including Republicans, tend be tolerant of such individual decisions.

As Justice Kennedy framed it in his opinion, “the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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