April 01, 2016

Federal judge affirms gay marriage ban is unconstitutional after Florida officials resist compliance


Although gay marriage has been legal in Florida for more than a year and the law nationwide since last summer, a U.S. District Court judge ruled definitively this week that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Judge Robert L. Hinkle said that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration and the state Legislature need to recognize that and also start treating same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples in all aspects of law.

Hinkle wrote that he was compelled to grant summary judgment in a long-standing lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s same-sex marriage ban because state officials have shown little, if any, inclination to accept and follow last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the implications of it.

“After the United States Supreme Court issued [its ruling], one might have expected immediate, unequivocal acceptance,” Hinkle wrote. “Not so for the State of Florida.”

More here.

December 14, 2015

Marco Rubio's Half True claim about the states and gay marriage


Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., doesn’t like the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but he said he won’t work to overturn it if he becomes president. Instead, Rubio told NBC’s Chuck Todd, he would appoint Supreme Court justices who "will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed."

Same-sex marriage is not a constitutionally protected right, and marriage laws have always been the responsibility of the states and not the federal government, Rubio said in an interview that aired Dec. 13 on Meet the Press.

"If you want to change the definition of marriage, then you need to go to state legislatures and get them to change it, because states have always defined marriage," he said. "And that's why some people get married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. And in Florida, you have to wait a couple days when you get your permit. Every state has different marriage laws."

We wondered if Rubio was right that "states have always defined marriage."

See what Lauren Carroll of PolitiFact found.

October 07, 2015

Bill allowing pastors to refuse same-sex weddings clears House panel


A bill allowing religious groups to deny marriages to same-sex couples cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature on Wednesday, passing a House panel.

The Pastor Protection Act (HB 43) was written in response to increasing uncertainty in the law after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this summer, bill supporters say. It passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on a 9-4 vote along party lines, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats against.

Sponsors Reps. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, and Bob Cortes, R- Altamonte Springs, said the legislation is necessary to give pastors additional protection, clarifying the religious freedoms in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"As everyone knows, there's been numerous changes in the law and the culture recently, so this law is designed to make clear in Florida statutes that no religious organization will have to perform or solemnize a marriage that violates their religious beliefs," Plakon said to the committee.

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August 27, 2015

MSNBC: Miami gay couple featured in Jeb Bush memoir won't vote for him


In his newly-released e-book, “Reply All,” Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush shares a tense email exchange over same-sex marriage with a man described by the former Florida governor as “a gay friend.” That’s a term the now 50-year-old Xavier Cortada, the gay friend in question, can’t dispute. But it doesn’t mean Bush will be getting his vote.

“I can separate my friendship from my politics,” Cortada told msnbc during a phone interview Wednesday. “Which is why I’m not voting for my friend, Jeb Bush.”

A longtime supporter of so-called “traditional” marriage, Bush has said repeatedly that he disagrees with the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex nuptials across the nation. But the new memoir of his governorship, as told through dozens of email exchanges like the one with Cortada, offers a little more insight into his enduring opposition to same-sex marriage.

Eleven years ago, on March 3, 2004, Cortada reached out to then-Gov. Bush about his support for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to unions between one man and one woman. The effort failed at the federal level, but ballot initiatives to ban same-sex marriage in nearly a dozen stateshelped energize social conservatives and, ultimately, reelect Bush’s brother, President George W. Bush.

More here.

August 13, 2015

Married same-sex couple sues Florida to list 2 moms on babies' birth certificates


via @SteveRothaus

The first same-sex couple to legally marry in Florida went back to court Thursday, one week after they had twins and the state refused to list the non-birth mother on the babies’ birth certificates.

Catherina Pareto and Karla P. Arguello of Coconut Grove, along with two other same-sex married couples who recently had children, sued Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong and state health department registrar Kenneth Jones in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee.

“Here we go again. It’s ridiculous,” said Pareto, who with Arguello, five other same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute, successfully sued in 2014 in for the right to marry in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

“Our twins were born last Thursday at Baptist Hospital,” Pareto said. “When it came time for Vital Records to prepare the birth certificates, when Karla requested that I be added as the second parent, I was denied.”

So far, the Florida Health Department has not publicly responded to the lawsuit. Whitney Ray, a spokesman for Pam Bondi, said the attorney general’s office “is not a party to this lawsuit” and has not discussed it with the health department.

More here.

Photo credit: Walter Michot, Miami Herald staff

July 08, 2015

Florida drops appeal of Miami-Dade, Keys same-sex marriage cases

via @SteveRothaus

Eleven days after the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex couples have the right to marry everywhere in America, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday officially dropped her appeal of the state’s first two gay marriage victories, in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

One year after Bondi became a national symbol in the conservative fight against gay marriage, she submitted one sentence just before 5 p.m. to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal: “Pursuant to Rule 9.350(b) of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Appellant State of Florida hereby voluntarily dismisses these appeals.”

Said Miami Beach attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who helped represented six same-sex couples in the Miami-Dade case: “We are grateful that this misguided attempt at defending an indefensibly bigoted law has at long-last been abandoned.”

More here.

June 30, 2015

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler explains why he signed same-sex marriage proclamation

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who voted against a same-sex resolution last year, signed a proclamation Friday celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seiler has tried to stay on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate.

A married Catholic who has four children, Seiler told the Miami Herald in 2013 that he had no position on the issue of same-sex marriage but supported civil unions and domestic partner benefits for city employees. In June 2014, Seiler voted against a city resolution in support of same sex marriage. The former state representative and Wilton Manors mayor has been mentioned as a potential future statewide candidate but his position on same-sex marriage could put him at odds with other Democrats.

The proclamation, which says it's in recognition of the "Marriage Equality Landmark Decision," was read in part at a rally Friday at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse by City Commissioner Dean Trantalis, the city’s first openly gay commissioner. The proclamation states that Fort Lauderdale has the highest concentration of same-sex households in the nation, according to the 2012 Census.

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June 27, 2015

Fort Lauderdale mayor signs same-sex marriage proclamation

via @AmySherman1

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler signed a proclamation Friday celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That's hardly surprising for his city, with its robust gay population. But it's a little surprising for Seiler, who in the past had tried to stay on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate.

The proclamation, which says it's in recognition of the "Marriage Equality Landmark Decision," was read in part at a rally Friday at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse by City Commissioner Dean Trantalis.


June 26, 2015

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen explains how she changed her mind on same-sex marriage


The New York Times compiled audio from eight leaders explaining how they came around to supporting same-sex marriage. One of them is U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, who on Friday called the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing the marriages one that "reflected our values."

"I did not have an 'A-ha!' moment. I evolved just like society did," she told the Times. She also spoke about her son Rodrigo, 29, a transgender man who was born Amanda Michelle.

"People look at me and they think, 'Oh, it's because of her family situation that she thinks the way she does now," she said. "It really is not because of that. I would have evolved to that position. Certainly Rigo sped it up for me and made it more personal for me."

Listen here.

Gay community celebrates in Broward

Jeff Bloom, 72, recalls decades ago when gay men got arrested in New York City for dancing together and when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by psychologists labeled homosexuality a disease.

On Friday, Bloom witnessed a major milestone in the advancement of gay rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage nationwide.

“To me, I never thought in my lifetime I would see something like this,” said Bloom, a single gay man while getting his hair cut at the Richard’s Men’s Hair Shop in Wilton Manors. “They recognized love is love.”

Customers and staff watched the news on the TV at the hair salon on Wilton Drive, the heart of Broward’s gay community.

“All of us started jumping up and down and screaming,” said David Krombholz, manager of the shop.

Older members of the gay community said they hope that younger generations will learn about the struggles they faced but acknowledged they will now grow up in a different time. Many recounted how they spent years of their lives hiding their relationships at work and elsewhere and now have seen the highest court declare equality.

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