Lawsuit filed to overturn Florida’s same-sex marriage banby John Kennedy | January 21st, 2014
A half-dozen gay and lesbian couples backed by the Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Miami looking to overturn the state’s 2008 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The lawsuit contends that the state prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution by denying same-sex couples the same legal protections given heterosexual couples.
“These couples have been embraced by their families and communities, but every day, Florida laws are denying them the protections and dignity that every family deserves,” said Nadine Smith, chief executive officer of the Equality Florida Institute. “These harmful laws are outdated and out of step.”
The lawsuit has been brewing since last summer, when U.S. Supreme Court rulings struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and a same-sex prohibition in California. The rulings have clouded the future of same-sex marriage bans across the country. Utah and Oklahoma recently lifted marriage bans based on the high court ruling, although both actions are being appealed.
In Florida, a ballot proposal was floated earlier this year by an organization called Equal Marriage Florida. But it seems to have languished and the court challenge has been advanced by advocates as the swiftest way to overturn the law.
Democratic candidate for governor, Charlie Crist, wasted no time weighing in on the lawsuit.
“No one would want to be told they can’t marry the person they love,” Crist said. “It’s an issue of fairness and I’m proud to support it.”
Following last summer’s Supreme Court action, Gov. Rick Scott said that the 2008 same-sex marriage ban approved by 62 percent of voters remains “the law of the land.”
He added, ““Look, I’ve been married since I was 19. I believe in traditional marriage.”
The Florida Family Policy Council, which helped lead the ballot campaign that led to the 2008 statewide ban, said it would “vigorously defend” the law.
“Sixty two percent of Floridians have decisively spoken on this issue,” said FFPC President John Stemberger, citing the percent of Florida voters who backed the 2008 initiative. “Gay activists cannot win in the marketplace, so they have resorted to trying to find renegade courts who have little respect for the rule of law to create social change that would never happen through the people or their elected representatives.”