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Couples take marriage equality cases to Florida court

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Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 1:00 am

The Gainesville community is weighing in on the six Florida same-sex couples who have filed a suit against the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Earlier Tuesday, the lawsuit was filed in the Miami-Dade Circuit Court by the couples suing for the right to marry and the Equality Florida organization for LGBT justice.

Similar lawsuits are being filed in states across the country, said Danaya Wright, a UF Levin College of Law professor.

Utah and Oklahoma are the two most recent states to lift their marriage equality bans.

“This is one of many cases being filed to force the issue onto the Supreme Court,” Wright said. “Eventually the Supreme Court will probably say that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional.”

Some are hopeful that the lawsuit will reflect a more liberal Florida.

LB Hannahs, director of LGBT affairs within UF’s Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, said a majority of Floridians support marriage equality.

“People think Florida is conservative,” she said. “The policies and politics of Florida do not reflect the popular opinion, and efforts to overturn the constitutional ban will prove that.”

Other local residents are also optimistic about the future for Florida same-sex couples.

Terry Fleming, co-president for the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida board of directors, and his partner have been together for 16 years.

Fleming said he is eager to see how the issue will unfold.

“We’re excited that something is finally moving forward to overturn this unfair ban here in Florida,” he said. “This is major step forward in recognized support of equal rights for all citizens.”

Fleming said he doesn’t want to leave Florida, where same-sex marriage is currently barred, to get married.

“Being able to celebrate where you live with family and friends is very important to all people,” Fleming said. “My partner and I are looking forward to the day we can do that.”

But even if Fleming went elsewhere to get married, his marriage would not be recognized in his home state. In 2008, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Alexandra Danovitch, a 21-year-old UF business and political science senior, said that the couples filing the lawsuit should not have to fight for their right to marry.

“It’s completely unnecessary that they are not allowed to get married,” she said. “It’s not fair that people in one state get to get married and not in another.”

A version of this story ran on page 1 on 1/22/2014 under the headline "Couples take marriage equality cases to Florida court"

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