Couples Deliver Petitions Asking Florida AG To Drop Gay Marriage Opposition

Jul 24, 2014

Donna Brown and partners Sean and Christopher Cooley deliver petitions at the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Same-sex couples delivered thousands of petitions to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office today asking her to reverse course on gay marriage. It’s been a week since Bondi appealed a Florida Keys judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Five couples and a handful of supporters carried baskets of petitions through Capitol security first thing Thursday morning. Donna Brown was among them. She says the petitions ask Bondi to stop treating gay people as “second-class citizens.”

“I honor and respect her position as the attorney general, and I know that some attorneys general in some other states have said the same thing: that it’s their duty and their right to defend the Constitution, and I get that,” Brown says.

Bondi's receptionist, Naomi Dillon, takes petitions from the couples.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

But Brown says some other AGs have chosen to stay out of the issue, while at least 25 judges have struck down state same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional.

Florida’s Monroe County decision was last Thursday, and Bondi’s appeal activated a stay that prevents gay marriage in Florida at least for now. But Brown says she and her partner of nine years are confident their upcoming nuptials at Southwood Golf Club will be legal.

“We picked a November date,” she says. “That’s how positive we were thinking.”

Tallahassee resident Sean Cooley and his partner carried one of the baskets of petitions into the Capitol.

“To me, as a Floridian, it’s very disappointing to see the attorney general waste so much money on fighting a case that has not won anywhere else in the U.S., right?” he says. “I wouldn’t go and invest in something that I know is failing, so why would I pour money into something that I know isn’t going to win anyways?”

Joy Lynn Lewis and Sheila Ortiz-Taylor also carried a basket of petitions.

“She’s my spouse of 23 years,” Lewis says.

“—24,” Ortiz-Lewis corrects her.

The couple officially married in California and are hoping to see their union recognized by their home state.

“We need the right of equal access to our partners, and it is essential that we have those legal rights, and that’s all we’re asking for,” Lewis says. She adds, “You don’t have to like us, but we’re cute.”

In addition to the appeal in the Monroe County case, Bondi has filed briefs in defense of Florida’s gay-marriage ban in federal court. Judges have yet to rule in two federal cases and another county case in Miami.