Court date set for Florida’s marriage equality lawsuit

By : Jamie Hyman
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Miami – Marriage equality in Florida will officially get its day in court.

According to Mary Meeks, an Orlando attorney who is a member of the legal team fighting to legalize same-sex marriage, the motion for summary judgment has been set for hearing July 2.

“Big day in court for Florida!” Meeks said.

In the meantime, there have been some smaller rulings and maneuvers in the lawsuit on behalf of six South Florida same-sex couples and the Equality Florida Institute challenging that Amendment 2 and other Florida laws banning marriage equality are unconstitutional.

Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel was expected to rule May 14 on whether the Liberty Counsel can intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of three anti-gay groups, but the Judge postponed her ruling and as of press time, still had not issued a decision.

“We have argued that those groups have no legal standing to intervene, but regardless of how the court rules on that Motion, it should not affect the progress of our case,” Meeks said. “We are moving forward to marriage equality, with or without those groups in the lawsuit.”

According to Meeks, dozens of anti-gay protesters attended the hearing on the motion, wearing stickers telling the Judge “support motion to abate” and protect Florida from homosexual marriage.

“The motion to abate was argued at a hearing last week, and had been withdrawn by the defendant clerk of court,” she said. “They didn’t seem to know that.”

The Miami-Dade Clerk of Court, the defendant in the case, filed that motion asking the judge to halt the lawsuit and wait for the federal court in the Northern District of Florida to rule on similar issues in that case. After withdrawing the motion, the defendant filed “pleadings that were filed in the federal suit by the Florida Attorney General,” Meeks said.

Judge Zabel then denied the motion to abate.

“That ruling means that our lawsuit goes full speed ahead towards a final hearing and ruling,” Meeks said.

The legal team representing the plaintiffs is made up of law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Meeks and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

The plaintiffs, all Miami-Dade County-based couples, are: Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier; Todd and Jeff Delmay; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz.

The initial lawsuit was filed in January, and the still undecided motion to intervene was filed in February.

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