BY STEVE ROTHAUS
The cities of Miami Beach and Orlando joined forces Monday seeking to allow gay couples to wed in Florida and that the state recognize legal marriages performed elsewhere.
“Our city is really pro LGBT. It’s important for us not to be pro LGBT by word, but more importantly by action,” Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said after the Beach commission passed a motion supporting gay marriage on June 11. “Miami Beach, we want to make it the most progressive, pragmatic in America. These types of initiatives are part of that vision and our mandate.”
Not to be outdone, Orlando commissioners passed a similar resolution on Monday.
“The City of Orlando is incredibly proud of the steps we've taken, including the implementation of the City's domestic partnership registry, that have made Orlando one of the most inclusive cities in America,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a statement. “Our City remains committed to equality and understand this serves as an additional economic development tool as our community looks to attract talented, creative people and employers and create jobs for all of our residents.”
After Orlando’s 4-2 vote Monday, Miami Beach attorneys representing both municipalities quickly filed a joint motion in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of six same-sex couples who have sued Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin to issue them marriage licenses.
“The appearance of the cities is significant on a statewide scale because for the first time Florida cities are standing up and saying marriage discrimination is just plain wrong,” said Robert Rosenwald, Miami Beach’s senior assistant city attorney. “It is unusual for a city to take a position on a social justice issue. but here both cities wanted to stand up for what’s right.”
Rosenwald has asked to speak before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel, who is presiding over the marriage case. At a July 2 hearing, the same-sex couples are expected to ask Zabel to immediately allow them to marry.
The couples are Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price of Davie; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier of Hollywood; Todd and Jeff Delmay of Hollywood; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber of Plantation; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz of Miami. Equality Florida Institute is also a plaintiff.
Late Monday, Miami Beach and Orlando filed a similar motion asking the state to recognize the Massachusetts marriage of a Broward man and his French-born husband, a student who is suing Florida Atlantic University to allow him to pay in-state tuition.
Journalism student Gildas Dousset wed Fort Lauderdale travel writer Paul Rubio July 25, 2013, a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the federal government to recognize the marriage of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer.
Dousset said that if he was a woman married to Rubio, FAU would charge him $199.54 per credit hour, but that because the university does not recognize their marriage, he must pay the non-resident rate, $718.09 per credit hour.
The Dousset case is being heard in Florida’s fourth district court of appeal in Broward.