Joan Rodriguez and Liz Molina are running out of time as they wait for Florida to finally end the ban that prevents the two women from marrying.
Liz, age 35, is losing her battle with cervical cancer and has dwindled to less than 80 pounds. She hopes to live long enough to see Joan give birth to their child, and she prays they will - through marriage - be recognized as a family.
That wish, shared by thousands of same-sex couples, could have come true after five different Florida judges ruled the marriage ban to be unconstitutional. Unfortunately, Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi continue to appeal those rulings even as the bans have been struck down in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
In a heart wrenching plea in mid-October, Joan told their story to the Orange County Commission, which was debating whether to file an amicus brief in support of overturning Florida’s ban of same-sex marriage. Joan spoke about how at one point Liz lost her insurance and went four months without treatment. Had they been able to marry, Liz could have been added to Joan’s policy. This may have prolonged, or even saved, her life.
“Each day that passes, couples like Joan and Liz face devastating hardships due to the state’s refusal to allow them marry,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “What possible harm is done to the state by allowing loving couples to legalize their commitment and protect their loved ones through marriage?”
Earlier this year, when Liz seemed to be in remission, the couple decided to have a child together, but Liz may not live to see the birth of their son Liam, who is due November 26. Liz’s name will not appear as on Liam’s birth certificate, and he will not be entitled to any legal benefits.
"It may be too late for me and Liz,” Joan told the commissioners, “But it doesn't have to be too late for other same-sex families."