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Florida same-sex couples seek marriage rights in federal court

In January, we reported that six couples filed a lawsuit in Miami challenging Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. Last Wednesday another lawsuit was filed -- this time the litigation is filed in federal court in Tallahassee. The recent federal litigation is being brought on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were married in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex unions.

Among the issues that the sixteen people face are issues that many people may take for granted when in a heterosexual marriage. Some of the couples have children. One couple in South Florida has a 15-month-old son and the men believe that recognition of same-sex marriages will be of great benefit when their boy starts school. Official recognition of same-sex marriages may quell future bullying in school for their child, the men believe.

Another person has had difficulty naming his husband as a beneficiary on a state benefits program. Similarly, a woman recently needed brain surgery and hospital workers raised questions about her wife’s status while the patient was under care.

Health-care directives, adoption issues and estate planning (or other benefit-related issues) can be cumbersome in the LGBT community as state laws seek to catch up to constitutional principles of equal protection.

It is no secret that the United States Supreme Court found part of the Defense of Marriage Act invalid. The federal government has begun to recognize same-sex marriages in many areas. But, last year’s high court ruling did not mandate that states recognize same-sex marriages. Less than half of the states currently allow same-sex couples to marry.

Source: Miami Herald, “Eight gay and lesbian couples sue Florida in federal court to recognize their legal marriages (updated),” Steve Rothaus, March 13, 2014

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