Key West couple sues for marriage equality

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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KEY WEST – A gay couple in Key West is following suit, literally.

Aaron Huntsman and his partner William Lee Jones sued Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin on April 1, after the couple was refused a marriage license. Huntsman and Jones want to wed on June 10, which will be the 11-year anniversary of their relationship and the 10-year anniversary of their commitment ceremony in Las Vegas.

Huntsman and Jones will be represented by Bernadette Restivo, an attorney with Restivo, Reilly & Vigil-Farinas, who put together the 17-page lawsuit. She said the suit is similar to the one filed back in January in Miami-Dade by the Equality Florida Institute and six same-sex couples against a clerk of courts who refused them a marriage license.

“We’ve been talking to [Huntsman and Jones] for several months about their desire to get married,” Restivo said. “They’re adamant about getting married in Florida and they understand it’s going to be a long journey, but they’re in it till the end.”

Ron Saunders, general counsel for the clerk’s office, told Florida Keys Reporter they had no choice but to deny the men the license based on Amendment 2, the ban on marriage equality approved by voters and added to the Florida Constitution in 2008. The amendment also bans recognition of legal same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships performed elsewhere.

In the complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief filed by Restivo on the couple’s behalf, it highlights similar court cases, like U.S. v. Windsor (2013), and makes two general allegations.

The two counts stated in the suit are that Florida Statues 741.04 and 741.212 are in “violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution” and in “violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Restivo said as she met with Huntsman and Jones about their desire to obtain a marriage license, it seemed as if every other week another new case was decided or similar issues in different jurisdictions were brought up that support the couple’s lawsuit.

“When we were meeting with Aaron and Lee about the suit being filed, we always felt Monroe County would be the best place for the suit to be filed,” Restivo said.

Monroe County was the first county in Florida to allow adoption by gays. Restivo said other same-sex couples who want to sue for marriage equality have contacted her office since she started working with Huntsman and Jones.

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