6 Same-Sex Couples File Lawsuit to Overturn Fla.’s Marriage Ban
Six same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit in Florida state court in Miami Tuesday seeking the freedom to marry. 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.
The couples are from Miami and the surrounding area. Four of the couples are raising children, and another couple has an adult child and two grandchildren. The couples are: Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier; Todd and Jeff Delmay; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz. They are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz, attorney Mary B. Meeks, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
Said Pareto: "Florida is our home, it is where we are raising our child, and where we want to get married. Karla and I wish for our family the same things that other families want. We want to build our lives together, provide a safe and caring home for our child, and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage."
Added Greene: "As Pam and I get older, it worries me that we do not have the legal protections that marriage provides in case one of us becomes ill or dies. Getting married in Florida will provide us with those important protections and it will allow us to celebrate that joyous occasion with all our family and friends, just as other couples can."
Stated Equality Florida Institute Chief Executive Officer Nadine Smith: "Today the majority of Floridians stand with us as we take this historic step toward marriage equality in the Sunshine State. These couples have been embraced by their families and communities, but every day, Florida laws are denying them the protections and dignity that every family deserves. These harmful laws are outdated and out of step. It is time for all families in our state to have full equality under the law."
Attorney Cristina Alonso of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt added: "Courts throughout the country are recognizing that this is an issue of basic dignity and fundamental fairness. We look forward to the day when our clients can celebrate and protect their relationships by getting married in their home state in front of family and friends."
Said attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz: "As someone who has spent nearly two decades helping same-sex couples and their families achieve some measure of legal protection under Florida law, which gives us very few tools, I know too well just how difficult the process can be and how much vulnerability these couples face. The protections we are able to cobble together without marriage pale in comparison to the comprehensive security provided by marriage recognized not just by the federal government but by the State of Florida."
NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter added: "The law should support families, not make it harder for committed couples to support one another and protect their children. Barring same-sex couples from marriage causes great harms to their families and children while helping no one."