Groups Seek To Defend Florida Gay Marriage Ban In Miami Lawsuit

Feb 26, 2014

Amendment 2 prohibiting same-sex unions that resemble marriage passed with just under 62 percent of the popular vote in 2008.
Credit Alex Johnson/MettaMomma via Flickr

Three groups that campaigned heavily for Florida’s constitutional gay marriage ban have asked a Miami judge to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit challenging it. They want to be allowed to argue against six same-sex couples.

The motion was filed Tuesday by groups called People United To Lead The Struggle For Equality, the Florida Democratic League, and Florida Family Action. Florida Family Action President John Stemberger says throwing out the same-sex marriage ban would disenfranchise millions of voters who decided the matter in 2008.

“Well I think the appropriate way, if gay-rights activists want to challenge this is, to have another constitutional amendment," he says. "I think they know that they don’t have the cultural consensus to actually pass that, and so that’s the problem.”

But National Center for Lesbian Rights Director Shannon Minter says it’s the judicial branch’s duty to ensure laws apply equally to everyone.

“When we have a situation, which certainly has happened repeatedly in our nation’s history, that the majority overreaches and enacts laws that take away fundamental rights from minorities, it’s the role of the courts to come in and restore the balance," Minter says.

Minter’s group is providing legal help to the Florida couples. Their lawsuit claims the Florida law violates gay people’s right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Stemberger also says because the couples’ challenge is based on the U.S. Constitution, it doesn’t belong in a state court, but Minter rejects that assertion, saying the appropriate place to challenge a state law is in state court.

Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel must decide whether to allow the groups to intervene.