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With gay marriage decided, Florida will add gender-neutral language to forms

Almost a year after a federal judge in Tallahassee declared Florida's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, the state is finally getting around to updating its marriage and death certificates.

By mid September, the state plans to have removed gender-specific language from these forms, which still refer to a "husband" and "wife," according to the gay rights organization Equality Florida.

Since same-sex marriage became legal in January, gay couples who have tied the knot have had to make the odd choice of whose name to write in which space. Once the change goes into effect, the forms will provide a place for the name of each "spouse."

Equality Florida spokesman Jim Harper said the organization learned of the changes Thursday from an employee for the state's Department of Vital Statistics.

A larger battle over whether married gay couples in Florida can have both of their names printed on birth certificates is still being fought.

On Aug. 13, three lesbian couples sued the state over the issue, arguing that Florida had violated their constitutional right to equal protection by denying them the "privacy, dignity, security, support and protections that are provided to married opposite-sex couples and their children."

Currently, state officials only permit the name of the birth mother to be printed on a child's birth certificate, which lists her as single, even if she is married to a woman.

In response to the couples' lawsuit, the state filed a motion seeking clarification on how the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Florida applies to birth certificates.

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