Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin asks judge to slow couples' gay marriage suit until other cases settled

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Written By: Steve Rothaus

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel said Tuesday she would decide “in the next week or so” whether to suspend a local gay-marriage lawsuit until after some similar federal case is decided in the future.

In January, six same-sex couples sued Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin after his office wouldn’t issue them marriage licenses.

Ruvin’s lawyers had originally asked Zabel to suspend the case indefintely. On Tuesday, they changed their wording.

“We may have used the word ‘abate’ a bit inartfully” clerk counsel Eileen Mehta told Zabel. “We are not looking to abate in terms of waiting until a decision in the pending federal case. Perhaps a motion to stay might have been a better choice of words. Really, your honor, all we are looking for is for the court to have an opportunity to benefit from the advocacy of the state in those cases.”

Lawyers representing the six couples asked Zabel to move ahead and quickly resolve the suit in their favor.

“The clerk is now shifting the position and saying hold off, and get the benefit of all these other cases,” Carlton Fields Jorden Burt attorney Jeffrey Michael Cohen told Zabel. “Your honor, there are 18 or 20 cases in federal courts all around the country raising these particular issues. It’s not appropriate for any court to hold off on the responsibility of deciding cases as important as this one. It involves peoples lives.”

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