FAU Student Joins the Fight for Same-Sex Marriage Rights
A Florida Atlantic University journalism student is fighting for his marriage rights. Gildas Dousset, has filed an appeal in state court asking that his same-sex marriage be recognized in the state of Florida. It happened after he was denied in-state tuition rates.
The appeal, filed in the Fourth District Court of Appeals, argues that Florida’s laws barring recognition of valid out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples violate the United States Constitution.
Dousset and his spouse were legally married last year in Massachusetts and later had a reception in Fort Lauderdale, where they live together. When Dousset sought in-state tuition at FAU as the spouse of a long-time Florida resident, the school refused to respect the couple’s legal marriage, citing Florida’s discriminatory laws.
In a pre-released statement, Dousset said, "Florida is my home and I would like my marriage to be recognized just as other students’ marriages are. My husband has lived in Florida all of his life and we love this state. This case is about protecting our family."
Dousset’s attorney George Castrataro said: "Gildas and his husband are recognized as legally married by the federal government and by many other states. But in his home state of Florida, his legal marriage is deemed void and unenforceable under Florida law. The harms inflicted by this extraordinary law are profound and burden the lives of countless Floridians."
National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter added: "The law should support families, not make it harder for committed couples to protect their families. These laws cause great harm to same-sex couples and their families while helping no one."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights also represents six same-sex couples and Equality Florida in Pareto v. Ruvin, a separate case before a state circuit court in Miami-Dade County challenging Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage. Oral argument in that case will take place later this summer.
FAU says it is following the law. Dousset’s lawsuit challenges Florida statute 741.212 that was signed into law in 1997. It requires that no state agency, including state universities, can recognize same-sex marriages. This includes recognition for the purposes of in-state tuition as outlined by Florida law. FAU, and every Florida state college and university, is bound to follow all the laws of the State of Florida unless they are deemed unconstitutional by the court.
FAU released a statement saying, "It is our understanding that this law is being challenged in courts throughout the state, and there is no allegation that FAU misapplied the law or did anything other than what is specifically required by the laws of the state."