The issue of same-sex marriage has been playing out in the media and in the legal arena for years. Now, a number of states are being forced to address the issue by way of hearing and ruling on lawsuits that have been filed by same-sex couples. As reported by the Miami Herald, Florida is no exception.
More specifically, six same-sex couples sued in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for the right to marry. Many of the couples are living together and some have children. They stated that they are aiming to marry in the state in which they live in order to have their relationships recognized in the eyes of the law.
The Plaintiff’s complaint argues that Florida’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage results in a denial of fundamental rights, dignity, and equality, which is supposed to be afforded to all citizens by the United States Constitution.
Florida’s History on the Issue
The state has never granted same-sex couples the right to marry. In fact, in 2008, the majority of voters acted to amend the state Constitution to specifically ban gay marriage. In the same vote, citizens also decided not to recognize domestic partnerships or same-sex marriages performed in another state. Opponents of gay marriage say that Plaintiffs are trying to circumvent the position of the citizens of Florida by going through the court system to achieve the change that would not happen through the people by way of their elected representatives.
Gay activists say that public opinion on the issue of marriage equality is changing, citing a survey from March 2013, which found that 75 percent of Florida voters would allow gay couples either to marry or to have civil unions. They say that more people are recognizing the humanity of gay people and their families as a result of their presence in many individuals’ personal lives. People are becoming more familiar with gay people and less afraid of the unknown, and are taking the position that these families deserve the same protections as others.
Recent Court Decisions
A number of recent court cases have ruled in favor of marriage equality, likely in light of the Supreme Court deciding in June of 2013 that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. The decision left it up to the states whether they would recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Since then, a few states have ruled that they would allow same-sex couples to marry. Fifteen states made gay marriage legal. Some say the precedent is set for other states to follow suit, but the case that has been filed in Florida may be playing out for years.
It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in the Florida state courts in the months and years ahead. If the court decides that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, the decision will have significant legal ramifications in the state of Florida, especially in the area of family law. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney in Florida. The lawyers at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. can help you address financial and other issues regarding your spouse, as well as child custody and support issues if children are involved. Contact us today for a consultation.