Miami Judge Rules Anti-Gay Groups Won't Be Affected by Gay Marriage
Three anti-gay groups wanted to get involved in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn Florida's gay marriage ban but have now been shut out by a Miami-Dade circuit judge who ruled "they will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage."
The lawsuit was filed by six South Florida gay couples, Equality Florida, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. It seeks to overturn Florida's same-sex marriage ban (and is separate from another lawsuit that seeks to have Florida recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages). They've sued Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin for not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Ruvin has responded by taken a neutral response, meaning he will not actively fight the suit.
The Florida Family Action Inc. (FFAI), Florida Democratic League Inc. (FDL), and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality Inc. (PULSE) wanted to jump into the case as defendants. FFAI indeed drafted 2008's Amendment 2, and the other groups helped pass the ban. Florida law does allow parties to intervene in such cases if they can show they have "direct and immediate" interest.
Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in Miami smacked the request down, basically by claiming that same-sex marriage would have no "direct and immediate" effect on homophobes.
"They will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage or are prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage," Zabel wrote in her six-page decision. "The validity of their own marriages will not be affected. The judgment in this case will not order them to do or refrain from doing anything. It will not have any legal impact upon them."
Zabel's reasoning is all legal. She claims that just because the groups were involved in passing the law, it doesn't mean they have any more right than anyone else who doesn't like gay marriage to jump into the case. But the underlying message in her ruling is clear: Same-sex marriage doesn't have a direct and immediate negative impact on straight people.
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