Followinga lawsuit filed in January
by six gay couples hoping to strike down Florida's gay marriage ban, a new lawsuit has been filed by eight other couples seeking to have Florida recognize gay marriages performed in other states.
Though the first lawsuit named Miami-Dade Clerk of Court Harvey Ruvin as the defendant, this suit goes straight to the top. The suit names Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and other top Florida officials as defendants and was filed by the ACLU, ACLU of Florida, and Podhurst Orseck law firm of Miami.
This suit includes eight couples who were married in other states and want Florida to recognize those marriages. That group includes a lesbian couple in Palm Beach Gardens with several young children. One of the women works as a firefighter and worries that if she died on the job her spouse would not receive the same benefits as other first responders' spouses.
Other couples include military veterans, the director of ministry empowerment for Miami's Unity on the Bay Church, and a Miami-Dade schoolteacher. Here are the eight couples:
- Lindsay Myers, a radio digital content producer, and her wife Sarah Humlie, the executive director of the Pensacola Humane Society;
- Chuck Hunziger and Bob Collier, both military veterans, who have been together for more than 50 years and live in Fort Lauderdale;
- Juan Del Hierro, the director of ministry empowerment for Unity on the Bay, and Thomas Gantt Jr., a teacher, who live in Miami and have a 14-month-old son;
- Christian Ulvert, a political consultant, and Carlos Andrade, a media director, who married in Washington, D.C., in 2013 and are interested in raising a family;
- Richard Milstein, a family law attorney, and Eric Hankin, a Miami public schoolteacher, who have been together 12 years;
- Robert Loupo, a Miami-Dade County Public Schools counselor, and John Fitzgerald, retired, who have been together 12 years;
- Sandra Jean Newson, a vice president at an agency that works to provide housing for formerly homeless individuals, and Denise Hueso, a clinical care coordinator at the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, who have a 15-year-old adopted child;
- Sloan Grimsley, a firefighter from Palm Beach Gardens, and her wife, Joyce Albu, a consultant assisting parents of children with developmental disorders.
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"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 calls the lawsuit something of a state-level United States v. Windsor. That's the Supreme Court case that struck down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act that forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
If successful, the suit would force Florida's government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.