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New lawsuit may bring marriage equality to Florida

Twelve Floridians seeking justice
Twelve Floridians seeking justice

As announced by advocacy organization Equality Florida in a press release, six same-sex couples yesterday filed a lawsuit in a Miami court seeking to overturn the state’s 5-year-old ban on same-sex marriages.

As stated in the press release:

The lawsuit argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides.”

Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez is one of the dozen plaintiffs named in the suit, along with the Equality Florida Institute.

A veteran Miami internist and pulmonary specialist, Rodriguez is also a family man with twin three-year-olds, a boy and girl.

He happily co-parents the twins with his loving partner of 17 years, whom he wants to marry. But the state of Florida won’t allow that because his partner is another man, David Price.

A Christian activist group called Love Protects and its Executive Director Jannique Stewart led the 2008 constitutional amendment campaign that succeeded in passing a law keeping thousands of people in long-term, committed relationships from being wed.

Dr. Rodriguez puts it this way:

David and I are devoted to our children. We are a family in every way, except that Florida will not allow us to marry.”

However far the case has to be taken through the Florida and perhaps national judicial systems, Juan Carlos, David, the other five couples filing the suit and Equality Florida are determined to change that.

Meanwhile another organization called Equal Marriage Florida is working on a petition drive to get a marriage equality amendment on the 2014 ballot, although many observers see the lawsuit as having a better chance of bringing social progress to the state.

That’s due to all the money and zeal behind Christian evangelical efforts to convince Floridians at the grassroots level to view marriage equality as a threat to the institution of marriage. Love Protects Exec. Dir. Stewart reveals the rhetoric in play:

We're going to do our part again of protecting the family, protecting, preserving the sanctity of marriage …and make sure that we educate the public [to] see the difference between homosexual relationships and traditional marriage the way God designed it."

With child poverty such a problem in Florida, where 35% of single parents and their children live in poverty, Equality Florida is hoping Floridians of faith will resist such fear-based appeals and look at the Big Picture.

It was Florida’s own Christian conservative U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who recently said:

The truth is that the greatest tool …that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82 percent…it’s called marriage.

With last year’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings supporting the civil rights of same-sex couple to marry and both national and state support growing steadily, many believe the time has come for Florida to put humanism, civil rights and family values over and above religious dogma and outdated fears.

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