[JURIST] Six same-sex couples and the Equality Florida Institute [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] in a Florida state court on Tuesday seeking to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage marriage. The lawsuit argues that Florida’s marriage laws violate the US Constitution by denying same-sex couples the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides. “Today the majority of Floridians stand with us as we take this historic step toward marriage equality in the Sunshine State,” Equality Florida Institute chief executive officer Nadine Smith said. “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 These harmful laws are outdated and out of step.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 of the law.” The ban was added to the state’s constitution in 2008 after approval by voters.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] has been an intensely debated issue in the US. Earlier this month US Attorney General Eric Holder announced [JURIST report] that the federal government will recognize the marriages that took place while same-sex marriage was briefly allowed in the state of Utah. In November Illinois became the fifteenth US state to legalize [JURIST report] same-sex marriage. Earlier in November, a federal judge in Ohio ruled [JURIST report] that a lawsuit seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages on Ohio death certificates could continue. Also in November a Colorado same-sex couple filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking a marriage license. Earlier that week a Missouri court denied [JURIST report] a same-sex partner survivor benefits. In October JURIST Guest Columnist Theodore Seto argued the fallout from the US v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] decision is only beginning to show the role state governments will have [JURIST op-ed] in state constitutional modification, in addition to the possibility that a same-sex marriage case will reach the US Supreme Court in the future. In September a Kentucky judge issued a ruling in the opposite direction, holding that partners in a same-sex couple must testify against one another [JURIST report] because same-sex partners are not protected by the husband-wife privilege under state law.