Gay Florida Couples Sue State for Right to Marry

Six same-sex couples are taking the State of Florida to court for the right to marry, Equality Florida Institute announced on Tuesday.

The lawsuit claims that Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, denying couples legal protections and overall equality that nongay married couples have.

Four of the couples named in the suit have children, while another couple has an adult child and two grandchildren.

See also: Charlie Crist Now Supports Gay Marriage

"Florida is our home; it is where we are raising our child, and where we want to get married," said plaintiff Catherina Pareto, who is fighting to marry her partner of 14 years, Karla Arguello. "Karla and I wish for our family the same things that other families want. We want to build our lives together, provide a safe and caring home for our child, and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage."

While a good portion of the country has seen advances in getting gay marriage legalized, Florida has lagged. In 2008, a ban on same-sex marriage was voted into the state constitution.

This past August, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS ruled that it will recognize joint tax returns of gay married couples in Florida. This means that Florida residents are able to get married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal and receive federal benefits once they come back home.

But the state still doesn't recognize their marriages, and any gay couple who wants the benefits married couples receive needs to go through the trouble of flying elsewhere to get hitched. Because, Florida.

The good news, however, is that since 2008, Floridians have dialed down their anti-gay marriage stance. Last March, a Public Policy Poll said that 75 percent of Florida voters now support gay marriage.

Sixty percent of the vote is needed to amend Florida's constitution. So Equality Florida has stepped things up and taken the fight to the courts.

Knowing that the majority of Floridians are now in support of gay marriage, the chief executive of Equality Florida, Nadine Smith, says it's time for the law to see it that way as well.

"Today the majority of Floridians stand with us as we take this historic step toward marriage equality in the Sunshine State," she said during Tuesday's presser.

"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. These harmful laws are outdated and out-of-step. It is time for all families in our state to have full equality under the law."

The lawsuit was filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph