John M. Becker

Six Couples Sue to Overturn Florida Marriage Ban

Filed By John M. Becker | January 21, 2014 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Florida, gay marriage, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, NCLR, same-sex marriage

florida-marriage-equality-plaintiffs.jpgThis morning, six same-sex couples and the group Equality Florida filed suit to overturn state laws banning same-sex marriage.

Equality Florida reports, via press release:

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).

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 These harmful laws are outdated and out of step.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."

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."

The ACLU of Florida responded with enthusiastic support:

"Marriage equality is inevitable and coming soon for Floridians because brave couples are demanding the dignity under the law that marriage provides. We are hopeful that the court hearing this case will agree with courts across the country that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be permitted to marry.

Following our victory last June in the Windsor case at the Supreme Court, which largely ended federal marriage discrimination, including for Floridians, the ACLU has been organizing legislative and ballot initiatives and also building lawsuits across the country--so far in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Oregon--to ensure that the case that reaches the Supreme Court next leads to the nationwide solution we are all working so hard for. Just as Floridians benefited from the Windsor case and the case of Loving v. Virginia before that, we are confident that our work and the work of our fellow LGBT organizations will lead to finally bringing marriage equality to all fifty states, including Florida."

More information about the plaintiffs, provided by Equality Florida, is after the jump.

About the Plaintiffs

Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello

Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello have been together for 14 years. Catherina owns and operates a financial planning firm. Karla is a stay-at-home mother to their 15-month-old son.

Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price

Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price have been together for nearly 18 years. Juan Carlos is a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine. David is the practice manager for Juan Carlos's medical practice. They have twins, a boy and a girl, who are three years old.

Said Juan Carlos: "David and I are devoted to our children. We are a family in every way, except that Florida will not allow us to marry. Being a doctor, I see people and families in crisis all the time. In those situations, family and the legal protections that come with it are critical. It pains David and me to be denied a basic safety net of legal protections."

Vanessa and Melanie Alenier

Vanessa and Melanie Alenier have been together for eight years. Vanessa is the assistant general manager of a national trade show and special event service provider. Melanie is an insurance agent. They have a 5-year-old son together.

Said Vanessa: "Melanie and I have worked so hard to build and protect our family, but nothing can come close to matching the protections that marriage provides. Our family is in need of those protections just like other families. We want our son to understand that his family is secure and just as respected as any other family part of our community here in Florida."

Todd and Jeff Delmay

Todd and Jeff Delmay have been together for 11 years. Todd and Jeff own and operate Delmay and Partners, a company that provides housing services for large events. They have one son, who is three years old.

Said Jeff: "Like all parents, making sure that our son is safe and secure is our top priority. Unfortunately, because the State of Florida will not allow us to get married we cannot provide the level of protections that opposite-sex married couples are able to give to their children. Beyond those critical protections, we want the opportunity to celebrate our love and commitment to one another in a wedding ceremony and have it mean something, which the state is currently denying us."

Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber

Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber have been together for 25 years. Summer is a real estate agent. Pamela is a portrait artist. Summer and Pamela raised Pamela's daughter from a prior marriage and now have two grandchildren, ages 10 and 17.

Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz

Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz have been in a committed relationship for a year and recently got engaged. Don is an office manager at a Miami law firm, and Jorge is a paralegal at a Miami law firm.

Said Jorge: "Both Don and I have very strong ties to Florida and cannot imagine getting married anywhere else. If we could marry, we would be legally recognized as a family and have all the same legal protections as others."

A copy of the complaint is below, via Kathleen Perrin:

Florida Marriage Lawsuit - Complaint by Equality Case Files

Photo by Bilerico contributor Michael Emanuel Rajner.


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