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Miami Case Could Decide Future of Gay Marriage in Florida

Thumbnail image for gay_pride_parade.jpg
Photo by George Martinez
It's about friggin time!
On Wednesday afternoon, Miami Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel presided over a hearing regarding an issue that has torn many Floridians apart-- whether lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to marry.

In 2008, 62 percent of Florida voters amended the state's constitution to only recognize marriages between a man and woman. This past January, six same-sex couples sued to challenge this law after Harvey Ruvin, the county clerk, refused to issue them marriage licenses.

Some conservative groups, such as the Christian Family Coalition (CFC), feel the voters' 2008 decision will be disrespected if Zabel rules in favor of the plaintiffs. However, the six couples believe their suit transcends state law and that their Constitutional guarantees are being infringed upon by not being allowed to marry.

"We want the legal protections marriage provides for our family," said Vanessa Alenier, who has an adopted son with her partner Melanie. "We are very hopeful and excited for the day we can marry in the state we love and live in. I'm a native Floridian and it's important for me to marry here."

When the couples arrived to the courtroom dozens of spectators met them with applause and snapped pictures of them on their phones.

When the plaintiffs took their seats in the first two rows, a mob of people behind them rushed in to find seats-- hundreds of people clamoring to be a part of history. With a jam-packed room, those who arrived late were sent to an overflow room.

Behind the Aleniers sat Todd and Jeff Delmay, who are also challenging the ban. "It was truly amazing to sit beside my fiancée Todd as the hearing began because it felt that's where we both should have been," said Jeff. "We are fighting this battle together."

After the hearing's start, Assistant Attorney General Adam Tanenbaum, representing the state, told Zabel that it is not for her court to decide whether the voters' decision in 2008 was a good policy but to respect the state's amended constitution. Tanenbaum also argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has left the definition of marriage up to the states.

Jeffrey Michael Cohen, the attorney representing the six couples, rebutted that the amended constitution discriminates against gay and lesbian couples because it robs them of the same basic dignities heterosexual couples have in the eyes of the law. "The majority doesn't have the right to make some citizens secondhand citizens through decisions that lessen their dignity. That's using the majority to oppress the minority," said Cohen in an interview after the hearing. "If [same-couples couples] cannot marry then they don't have the benefits of the laws that protect married families. There are thousands of these laws, ranging from the right of inheriting property to taking care of a spouse who is sick in the hospital."

Zabel noted the recent swell of other court decisions that have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, including a judge in Kentucky who struck down the state's similar ban on same-sex marriage the day before the hearing. Additionally, she critically questioned the defense on whether Miami-Dade County should only allow potentially procreative couples to marry.


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16 comments
samueljackson864
samueljackson864

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moralvalues1949
moralvalues1949

When the federal district court in Utah struck down Utah’s marriage law a few days before Christmas last December, and the State’s request for a stay was denied by both the district court and the court of appeals, the Supreme Court unanimously issued a stay, blocking the district court’s judgment. It is quite rare for the Supreme Court to issue a stay when both lower courts have refused to do so, and the standard that it applies is whether the state had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. The stay issued by the Supreme Court in the Utah case therefore outweighs all of the district court decisions that have recent invalidate state marriage laws combined. to bad


moralvalues1949
moralvalues1949

When the federal district court in Utah struck down Utah’s marriage law a few days before Christmas last December, and the State’s request for a stay was denied by both the district court and the court of appeals, the Supreme Court unanimously issued a stay, blocking the district court’s judgment. It is quite rare for the Supreme Court to issue a stay when both lower courts have refused to do so, and the standard that it applies is whether the state had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. The stay issued by the Supreme Court in the Utah case therefore outweighs all of the district court decisions that have recent invalidate state marriage laws combined.


Maria Christina
Maria Christina

The issue for marriage equality is presented well and balanced. It is such a shame that we still have to fight for these rights. These couples are in a just as loving relationship as heterosexual couples. They just want the same protection by law given for heterosexual couples.

Maria Christina
Maria Christina

The issue for Marriage Equality is presented very well and balanced. It is such a shame that we still have to fight for these rights. These couples are in a just as loving relationship as heterosexual couples. They just want the same protection by law given for heterosexual couples.

Heather Rogerson
Heather Rogerson

Michelle Calienes Harvelle Florida is last to join the country in everything! Backwards state

Hany Fawzy Attallah
Hany Fawzy Attallah

US 2016,,She is strong ;fair ,beautiful,hard,decisive,i mean Hillary Clinton;;but if go outside Israelis loop line can be disrupted,or injured,she like other US presidents free within frame not go out ;out is owned by people do underground work for USA ,,and Israelis, f

Michelle Calienes Harvelle
Michelle Calienes Harvelle

Florida was one of the last states to legalize interracial marriage, its sad but I don't expect any different for same-sex marriage.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@moralvalues1949 Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito just refused to hear a petition for writ of certiorari from a county clerk in Pennsylvania regarding that state's overturned ban on gay marriage, so there's that.

wp121606
wp121606

@moralvalues1949 It is not uncommon for SCOTUS to issue a stay on a "case of first impression" where it is assumed that the case will ultimately be appealed to it.

Browne
Browne

go jump in a lake, how is that two people of the same sex want the same protections as heterosexuals but dont behave as heterosexuals, how contradicting is that.  I dont condone hurting or discriminating against anyone, but this is like a little kid wanting something else that another kid has and then whines and makes a big stink out it, AKA LGBT

Browne
Browne

.homosexuality is not natural, interracial marriage still consists of natural acts....

moralvalues1949
moralvalues1949

@wp121606 @moralvalues1949  Applications are addressed to a specific Justice, according to federal judicial circuit. The United States is divided into 13 federal circuits, with each Justice assigned to a specific circuit or circuits (see page 19).
Case law has established four general criteria that the applicant normally must satisfy in order for the Court to grant a stay. They are:
1.
that there is a “reasonable probability” that four Justices will grant certiorari, or agree to review the merits of the case;
2.
that there is a “fair prospect” that a majority of the Court will conclude upon review that the decision below on the merits was erroneous;
3.
that irreparable harm will result from the denial of the stay;
4.
finally, in a close case, the Circuit Justice may find it appropriate to balance the equities, by exploring the relative harms to the applicant and respondent, as well as the interests of the public at large.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/publicinfo/reportersguide.pdf

LeeNorth
LeeNorth

@Browne You are talking about human beings--check yourself: besides the sexual act itself (which is really no one's business) how are they not behaving like heterosexuals? Are they not caring for one another in sickness in health? Are they not raising children--feeding them, working to make their lives full, carting them around in mini-vans?  Are they not loving to the best of their ability?  You see same-sex couples as different because you are (strangely) focused on their sex lives.  People are people and if you were to see everyone as human and not as objects, I think you could see your way to recognizing that denying people basic rights (hospital visitation, inheritance, equal protection, etc) is inhumane, if not ungodly.  

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