The ACLU of Florida has filed a new motion in federal court demanding that Florida immediately recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states or countries.
ACLU spokesman Baylor Johnson tells the Herald that the group is asking U.S. District Judge Robert Hickle " to stop enforcement of the constitution and statutory ban on recognizing the marriages of these couples."
The new complaint comes as the civil liberties group has added another couple to a suit filed by eight couples seeking the right to recognize marriages from other states.
"Each of these couples has their own story of how the state's discriminatory refusal to recognize their marriages has impacted their lives," Daniel Tilley, LGBT rights attorney for the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement. "These eight couples have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage in the states where they exchanged vows, and the federal government recognizes their marriages as well. It's time for Florida to stop the harmful practice of treating committed couples as if they are strangers."
The ACLU insists lawful same-sex unions should be treated the same as any other marriage, even if they did not happen in Florida's jurisdiction. The group states the states refusal to do so, among other things, "unlawfully denies them many of the legal protections available to different-sex couples, including, but not limited to, the
automatic right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated spouse, access to health insurance and retirement benefits, property protections, and inheritance."
Last June the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Section 3 of the 1995 federal Defense of Marriage Act, a provision that prevented the U.S. government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples, however that provision is not cover how states such as Florida must handle unions that took place outside their borders. That decision by the Supreme Court opened the door for these recent ACLU lawsuits.
The ACLU's entire complaint can be read below. Their attorney argues that Florida's continued refusal to recognize gay marriages " violates the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution" and "discriminates against such couples on the basis of sexual orientation."
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Florida Family Association President John Stemberger has already lashed out at the newest filing, telling the Herald, "I don't think there's any legal basis in what they're asking for unless the judge wants to ignore the precedent and do what he wants personally."