Motion to intervene in marriage equality case denied

By : Staff Report
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Miami – Three anti-gay groups Florida cannot intervene in a Florida lawsuit fighting for marriage equality, a circuit court judge ruled June 3. Judge Sarah Zabel ruled that Florida Family Action Inc., Florida Democratic League and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality—all who support the state’s ban on marriage equality and were represented by the Liberty Counsel—cannot intervene in Pareto v. Ruvin.

That lawsuit, involving six same-sex couples, argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides. The plaintiffs are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Mary B. Meeks, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Judge Zabel found that the three groups hoping to intervene did not have concrete legal interest in the case because they “will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage, or are prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage.”

The court also noted that the “validity of their own marriages will not be affected,” adding that if these groups could enter the case as parties simply because they have strong beliefs about the issues in the case, “so would anyone who has a strongly held belief regarding the constitutionality of the Amendment and statutes at issue in this suit.”

“Today Judge Zabel reached the proper conclusion in denying extremists seeking a platform for their anti-gay rhetoric the right to intervene in this case,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida Institute, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This lawsuit is about fundamental, constitutionally protected rights that are violated by a measure that does real harm to our families.”

On July 2, Judge Zabel will hear from attorneys who filed the lawsuit in January.

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