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Florida: Recognition of same-sex marriages

Part 5: Recent polling data on same-sex
marriage in Florida. List of active lawsuits.
Attorney General fights marriage equality.
Briefs filed in favor of marriage equality

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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wedding rings

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 which successfully banned 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.

Between mid 2013, and FFA's request, 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 all these judges can all be regarded as "activist."

By 2014-NOV, the number of similar lawsuits involving same-sex marriage had grown to about three dozen. All but two issued rulings in favor of marriage equality.

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2013-DEC to 2014-APR: Public opinion polls in Florida on same-sex marriage:

All three polls in the four months between 2013-DEC and 2014-APR showed a plurality in favor of making marriage available to same-sex couples. In two of the polls, the margins were over 16 percentage points. There is no obvious reason for the low support value in the Public Policy Polling poll. Results from the other two polls match closely a variety of recent national polls.

Date Polling Agency Favoring SSM Opposing SSM Don't know or didn't answer Sample Size Margin of error
2013-DEC
PRRI 1
57%
37%
6%
261
±7.0 p.p.*
2014-JAN
PPP 2
47%
44%
9%
591
±4.0 p.p.
2014-APR
QUIN 3
56%
39%
5%
1,413
±2.6 p.p.

* In percentage points.

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2014-JUN-20: A list of active court cases in Florida involving same-sex couples:

Across the United States, by this time, there were over 70 active court cases involving one or more same-sex couples. There is at least one lawsuit in every state that currently bans such marriages by restrictive state statutes and/or a constitutional amendment.

There appear to be at least seven law suites active in Florida.

  • A major case involves two lawsuits in federal Northern District Court that have been consolidated as Grimsley and Albu. The two original lawsuits are:
    • Brenner v. Scott: This involves a same-sex couple was married in Canada and is asking Florida to recognize their marriage. This case has been merged with Grimsley and Albu v. Scott.

    • Grimsley and Albu v. Scott: Eight same-sex couples who have married out-of-state are each asking that their marriage be recognized in Florida.

  • Another major case is Pareto v. Rubin which was filed in the state Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in Miami by six same sex couples who are not yet married. They are asking that they -- and all other qualifying same-sex couples -- be allowed to marry in Florida.

There are also five other cases:

  • Dousset v. Florida Atlantic University: Gildas Douseset, and his spouse Paul Rubio, want their Massachusetts marriage recognized so that he can obtain a reduction on his tuition.

  • Huntsman v. Heavilin: This case involves a Key West couple seeking the right to marry in Florida.

  • Shaw v. Shaw:This involves a same-sex couple who is seeking a divorce but first have to have their same-sex marriage recognized in Hillsborouth County.

  • Simpson v. Bondi: Jason Simpson has filed a lawsuit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. He needs to have his out-of-state marriage recognized so that he can handle the affairs of his husband Frank Bangor who is now deceased.

  • Trepanier and Puente v. Heavilin: They are another Key West couple seeking the right to marry in Florida. 4

With such a large group of cases in state and federal courts, there is the potential of real chaos if they judges make opposing rulings.

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2014-JUN-24: Attorney General Pam Bondi will defend same-sex marriage ban in court cases:

Bondi's office announced that she continues to supports the ban in the state constitution that prohibits loving, committed same-sex couples from marrying in Florida and which prohibits the state from recognizing legal same-sex marriage solemnized out-of-state. 4 She has been taking an active role against the plaintiffs in Pareto v. Rubin which involves six same-sex couples who filed a lawsuit in state court. She is also working against the plaintiffs in the consolidated federal court lawsuit Grimsley and Albu which was filed in the Northern District Court.

She is probably experiencing a conflict over this decision, because when she took his oath of office, she promised to uphold both the state Constitution and the federal Constitution. Unfortunately, the oath does not indicate what action an Attorney General should take in the event that the two Constitutions conflict:

  • The 2008 amendment to the state constitution clearly and unambiguously bans marriage for same-sex couples; it even bans civil unions.

  • By the end of 2014-JUN, there have been over a dozen decisions by state courts and federal District Courts, and by one U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal on same-sex marriage lawsuits. All courts have found such state marriage bans to be unconstitutional because they violate the due process and equal protection clauses in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Apparently the Attorney General has chosen to ignore the federal Constitution and follow the state Constitution. Some would suggest that she should have made the opposite decision. The vast majority of constitutional experts regard the federal Constitution as the ultimate law of the land and as superior to each of the 50 state constitutions.

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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. Robert P. Jones et al., Page 49, "Public Religion Research Institute, 2014-FEB-26, at:
    http://publicreligion.org/
  2. Tom Jensen, "Crist holds onto narrow lead over Scott," Public Policy Polling, 2014-JAN-22, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/
  3. Tim Malloy, "Crist Has 15-Point Compassion Lead In Florida, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Back Gay Marriage, ..." 2014-APR-30, at: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/
  4. Anthony Man, "Same-sex marriage cases," Sun Sentinel, 2014-JUN-20, at: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/

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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-30
Latest update: 2014-JUL-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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