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Same-Sex Couples Sue Florida For Marriage Equality

Equality Florida

Six same-sex couples have filed suit against the state's constitutional amendment that denies them the right to marry. The lawsuit, filed this morning in Miami by the couples and marriage equality advocacy group Equality Florida, argues that state laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violates the United States Constitution by denying them legal protections.

"These couples have been embraced by their families and communities, but every day, Florida laws are denying them the protections and dignity that every family deserves," said Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith in a release announcing the suit.

"It is time for all families in our state to have full equality under the law.”

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.

They are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz, attorney Mary B. Meeks and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

READ: The "Pareto v. Ruvin" complaint as filed today in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

“The law should support families, not make it harder for committed couples to support one another and protect their children. Barring same-sex couples from marriage causes great harms to their families and children while helping no one,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter.

Following the announcement, John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council, issued a statement calling the suit a "publicity stunt."

"Sixty-two percent of Floridians have decisively spoken on this issue," Stemberger said. "Gay activists cannot win in the marketplace, so they have resorted to trying to find renegade courts who have little respect for the rule of law to create social change that would never happen through the people or their elected representatives."

Stemberger said the couples are free to have private civil commitment ceremonies and that his group will "vigorously defend" the 2008 state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter @patrickhdonges.

Patrick Donges served as WJCT's Digital Content Editor from August 2013 - August 2014.