Florida Couples & Equality Florida Ask Court to Declare State’s Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples Unconstitutional
Press Release: (Miami, FL, May 1, 2014) —Today, the plaintiffs challenging the State of Florida’s refusal to permit same-sex couples to marry asked a state court to rule that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. In their motion, the six couples and Equality Florida Institute argue that Florida’s ban on marriage equality violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution.
The couples are from Miami and the surrounding area. Four of the couples are raising children, and another couple has an adult child and two grandchildren. The couples are: Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier; Todd and Jeff Delmay; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz. They are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Mary B. Meeks, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
The couples’ motion filed today asserts that Florida’s marriage ban cannot stand in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last June that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. The couples’ papers note that every court to consider these federal constitutional claims since last summer’s Supreme Court decision has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. This includes federal courts in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Said Pareto: “We’ve built a family together over the last 14 years, and we want the opportunity to get married in our home state, where our relationship will be recognized and our family will have the same security that any other family in Florida enjoys. We’re hopeful that our 1-year-old son will be able to grow up in a state that respects his family and treats us as equals under the law.”
Said Dr. Rodriguez: “Florida is our home and it scares us that in times of crisis we won’t have the security that other couples enjoy because the state does not allow us to share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage. I look forward to the day we will be able to marry before our family and friends in the state we call home.”
Added Equality Florida Institute’s Executive Director Nadine Smith: “The law should treat all families fairly. Florida’s marriage ban makes it harder for same-sex couples to take care of one another and protect their children. We are confident when we have our day in court, Florida will stand with other courts across the country in concluding these laws violate the basic principles of fairness and equality for all.”
About the Plaintiffs
Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello
Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello have been together for 14 years. Catherina owns and operates a financial planning firm. Karla is a stay-at-home mother to their 1-year-old son.
Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price
Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price have been together for nearly 18 years. Juan Carlos is a physician specializing in pulmonary medicine. David is the practice manager for Juan Carlos’s medical practice. They have twins, a boy and a girl, who are 3 years old.
Vanessa and Melanie Alenier
Vanessa and Melanie Alenier have been together for eight years. Vanessa is the assistant general manager of a national trade show and special event service provider. Melanie is an insurance agent. They have a 5-year-old son together.
Todd and Jeff Delmay
Todd and Jeff Delmay have been together for 11 years. Todd and Jeff own and operate Delmay and Partners, a company that provides housing services for large events. They have one son, who is 3 4 years old.
Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber
Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber have been together for 25 years. Summer is a real estate agent. Pamela is a portrait artist. Summer and Pamela raised Pamela’s daughter from a prior marriage and now have two grandchildren, ages 10 and 17.
Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz
Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz have been in a committed relationship for a year and recently got engaged. Don is an office manager at a Miami law firm, and Jorge is a paralegal at a Miami law firm.
Equality Florida Institute
Equality Florida Institute is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The organization has many members throughout the state. Since its inception, the organization has represented the interests of LGBT Floridians through public education, coalition-building, advocacy and grassroots organizing. Equality Florida Institute also coordinates public education campaigns and events for policymakers, LGBT people, and the public at large on issues affecting the LGBT community. Equality Florida Institute members include many same-sex couples who long for the freedom to marry and would marry in Florida if Florida law permitted them to do so.
Spanish speakers available for interviews.
Photo courtesy of Courtney Ortiz Photography