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Florida: Recognition of same-sex
relationships and LGBT equality

Part 4: Two new lawsuits to legalize
SSM filed -- in Florida federal court.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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wedding rings2014-MAR: Two new lawsuits are filed, seeking marriage equality:

Earlier, the lawsuit Pareto v. Rubin was filed in Florida state court.

Freedom to Marry reported that two additional lawsuits have been filed. Unlike Pareto, these are in federal court.

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2014-MAR-06: Lawsuit: Brenner v. Scott:

"Brenner" was filed by Attorneys Bill Sheppard and Samuel Jacobson on 2014-MAR-06. The two plaintiffs are a same-sex couple who were married in Canada and now live in Tallahassee, FL. They are asking that their Canadian marriage be recognized in Florida on a par with opposite-sex, out-of-state marriages. Governor Rick Scott (R) and Attorney General General Bondi (R) are defendants. The case was scheduled to be heard in Florida's federal Northern District Court by Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle. 1

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2014-MAR-13: Lawsuit: "Grimsley and Albu v. Scott

"Grimsley and Albu" was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida on behalf of the SAVE organization, and eight married same-sex couples seeking to have their out-of-state same-sex marriages recognized in Florida.

SAVE was founded in 1993 to combat Anita Bryant's "Save our Children" fear-based campaign against the LGBT community. It was based on the idea that because lesbians and gays cannot procreate, they have to recruit children with a heterosexual orientation into the LGBT community. Her campaign resulted in the repeal of Miami-Dade's Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) which had banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. SAVE successfully persuaded the Miami-Dade County Commission in 1998 to pass a new HRO, which was approved by a public vote in 2002. 2

The plaintiff couples in Grimsley are:

  • Lead plaintiff Sloan Grimsley who is a firefighter and paramedic for the City of Palm Beach Gardens, and Joyce Albu, a consultant for children living with autism, and other neurodevelopmental disorders;

  • 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, DC in 2013 and are interested in raising a family;

  • Richard Milstein, a family law attorney, and Eric Hankin, a Miami public school teacher, who have been together 12 years;

  • Robert Loupo, a Miami-Dade 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. 5

The defendants -- all cited in their official capacities -- are:

  • Governor Rick Scott (R),

  • Attorney General Pam Bondi (R),

  • Florida Surgeon-General and Secretary of Health, John H. Armstrong, and

  • Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services, Craig J. Nichols. 3

Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the ACLU of Florida, said:

"Each of these couples has their own story of how the state’s discriminatory refusal to recognize their marriages has impacted their lives. 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." 3

In Florida, same-sex couples who have been married out-of-state and who live in Florida are considered "legal strangers." Their marriage does not exist as far as the state government is concerned. They, and unmarried same-sex couples are treated as simple roommates.

Tony Lima, Executive Director of SAVE, said:

"All around the country, loving couples enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage fully recognized by their state, and it’s time Florida couples enjoyed that as well. Why should couples who commit to love and care for one another lose protections for that relationship when they return to Florida? As representatives of the South Florida LGBT community, we believe all Floridians’ marriages deserve the same dignity and respect and stand proudly with the other plaintiffs in saying that the protections embodied by the promise of marriage shouldn’t disappear based on where you are." 3

Howard Simon, the Executive Director of ACLU of Florida said:

"Our historic victory in last year’s Supreme Court case striking down DOMA means that many loving and committed Floridians have marriages that are recognized by the federal government. Sadly, Florida refuses to recognize those marriages, often at significant cost to their families. The time has come for Florida to end its discrimination against same sex couples, including those whose marriages are legally recognized elsewhere in our country and by the federal government." 3

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2014-APR-01: Two cases consolidated:

Judge Hinkle of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida decided that two lawsuits: Brenner v. Scott and Grimsley & Albu v. Scott would be consolidated into a single lawsuit. The goals of both lawsuits were identical: to require Florida to recognize same-sex marriages legally solemnized in other states. He set MAY-27 as the deadline for all briefings to be filed.

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2014-APR-02: Florida Family Action (FFA) attempts to intervene in Brenner and Grimsley & Albu,:

In 2008, the FFA was the major player in promoting the 2008 state constitutional Amendment 2 to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions in Florida. The Amendment was approved by voters 62% to 38% and was the first constitutional amendment in Florida history to exceed the 60% vote threshold needed to be adopted.

Responding to the two federal lawsuits Brenner and Grimsley & Albu, the FFA obtained the legal services of Liberty Counsel who requested permission from the court for FFA to intervene in the case.

John Stemberger, President of FFA issued a statement saying:

"The constitution is not silly putty. It has objective words and limitations to its scope. The left in this country has no regard for the rule of law and facilitated by activist judges seek to pull new legal rabbits out their hat by twisting words and making things up from thin air which the constitution never articulated and which the framers never envisioned.  There are some things in life and in America worth fighting for even if it comes at great cost.  The institution of marriage and the Constitution are two such things. Without these our civilization begins to become reckless and government tramples on basic human liberty."

It is not absolutely clear whether President Stemberger is referring to the Florida Constitution or to the federal Constitution. We are guessing the latter. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was the basis of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled during 1967 that state laws and constitutional amendments that banned interracial marriages were unconstitutional.

Since mid 2013, 100% of the judges in a dozen or so similar lawsuits about same-sex marriages in both state and federal District Courts have used exactly the same reasoning to legalize same-sex marriage in a dozen or so states. [Few same-sex couples can actually get married because almost all of the rulings are stayed pending appeals.] So has the majority of a three-judge panel on a federal circuit Court of Appeal. We find it difficult to understand how these judges can all be regarded as "activist."

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above menu. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Brenner v. Scott" (Consolidated with Grimsley and Albu v. Scott)," Freedom to Marry, 2014-MAY, at: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/
  2. "Our Story," SAVE, at: http://www.savedade.org/
  3. "Grimsley and Albu v. Scott, et al. - Plaintiff Profiles," ACLU, 2014-MAR-13, at: https://www.aclu.org/
  4. "ACLU Seeks Recognition for Florida Same-Sex Couples Married Out of State," ACLU, 2014-MAR-13, at: https://www.aclu.org/
  5. "Grimsley and Albu v. Scott, et al. - Plaintiff Profiles," American Civil Liberties Union, 2014-MAR-13, at: https://www.aclu.org/

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Florida > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2014-JUN-07
Latest update: 2014-JUN-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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