Legal challenge could overturn gay-marriage ban in Florida

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Written By: Billy Manes

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Equality Florida and the National Center for Lesbian Rights announced from a Miami Beach press conference that they would, as had previously been hinted, team up to challenge Florida’s gay marriage ban in Florida courts. Though the move falls in line with recent historic efforts in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Pennsylvania (among many others), Florida’s first step toward righting the perceived wrongs of 2008’s Amendment 2 is impressive in its own right.

Six same-sex couples – three male, three female – who have been in committed relationships for as long as 25 years are suing the Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin following his office’s refusal to issue them marriage licenses on Jan. 17. Five of the six couples have children together, and one of those couples – Melanie Leon Alenier and Vanessa Alenier – helped overturn Florida’s ban on gay adoptions when they won a court case in 2010 allowing them to legally adopt a 21-month-old child who had lived with them since he was 9 days old.

“We spend our life together as if we’re married. The only difference is that we’re not married. Florida is our home, and more than anything, we want to get married in Florida,” the Aleniers said following the Tuesday press conference.

All but one of the couples involved in the case attended the press conference. The plaintiffs are Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello, who have been together for 14 years; Todd and Jeff Delmay, in a relationship for 11 years; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber, together 25 years (“In the 1970s, Anita Bryant told us that we were not acceptable at a time when acceptance and fitting in meant everything to a teenager. Today, we’re here before you seeking the freedom to marry,” Greene said at the press conference); Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price, together 18 years and raising twins; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz, together for one year.

“Marriage matters,” Diaz said. “It matters to us, because sometimes all you have to hold onto is each other.”

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