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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 13 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 24
Anti-Gay groups can't intervene in marriage case, Florida judge says
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Anti-Gay groups can't intervene in marriage case, Florida judge says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Florida District Judge Sarah Zabel ruled on June 3 that three anti-Gay groups may not intervene in a case challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

The groups include Florida Family Action (FFAI), the Florida Democratic League (FDL), and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, all supporters of the state's discriminatory marriage laws.

Judge Zabel found that these groups did not have standing to intervene in the case because they all lacked a concrete legal interest in the case. 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,' she wrote.

Zabel also noted that the 'validity of their own marriages will not be affected,' by the outcome. 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,' the judge wrote.

'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. We look forward to the day when Florida joins the 19 other states and the District of Columbia, where judges have come to the conclusion that such a ban is indefensible.'

The case Pareto v. Ruvin comes to trial on July 2, when Zabel will hear oral arguments. The plaintiffs are six same-sex couples from the Miami area and Equality Florida Institute.

The lawsuit 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 equal marriage rights provides.

A federal lawsuit involving eight couples and the ACLU has also been filed, but no trial date has been set.

An April 2014 Quinnipiac poll found that 56% of respondents supported allowing same-sex couples to get married in Florida, with 39% opposed with 5% unsure or refusing to answer.

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