Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Attorney General Pam Bondi to defend Florida's gay marriage ban in court cases

Attorney General Pam Bondi says the suits challenge a Florida constitutional amendment.

Attorney General Pam Bondi says the suits challenge a Florida constitutional amendment.

Attorney General Pam Bondi's office announced Tuesday that it will defend the state's gay marriage ban in separate lawsuits filed in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Allen Winsor, the state's solicitor general, states in the motions filed in local courts that Florida has a legitimate interest in intervening in the cases since they represent a challenge to the 2008 state constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage.

Bondi is already defending the state in a federal lawsuit filed in North Florida. That legal challenge maintains the state is discriminating against gay couples by not recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal.

Conservative activists hailed Bondi's response to the federal lawsuit, but had been critical of her for not defending the state right-to-marry cases.

John Stemberger, president of the conservative Florida Family Action in Orlando, praised Bondi. "The most important thing is that if the judge were to grant a motion and find a new-found right to marry, which does not exist, then the attorney general would be in a position to enjoin that until the federal case plays out," he said Tuesday.

Elizabeth Schwartz, an attorney in the Miami-Dade case of six same-sex couples who have sued to marry, said Bondi should be defending the rights of same-sex couples.

"It's also her job to make sure that citizens of her state are not discriminated against. And courts throughout the country have resoundingly found that the ban against marriage equality discriminates against gay and lesbian people," she said.

In January, Equality Florida Foundation and the six couples sued Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin to issue them marriage licenses. The clerk's office has not vigorously defended the case. "We filed our affidavits. What we're contending is the marriage license bureau is purely ministerial," Ruvin said Tuesday afternoon. "We're prepared to follow any directive of the court."

Two Key West men later sued Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin for a marriage license. Heavilin also is not actively defending the state's gay marriage ban.

Each case returns to court in early July, and both sets of plaintiffs are seeking to immediately be allowed to marry.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Attorney General Pam Bondi to defend Florida's gay marriage ban in court cases 06/24/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 7:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.