Articles Posted in Same sex marriage

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On June 11, 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed the bill that will remove the language banning gay couples from adopting children from Florida law. Though a judge for the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and state officials stopped actively enforcing the ban in 2010, the language remained codified in Florida law. Florida was the only state in the U.S. to have such a ban and, though removing the language is largely a formality, gay rights advocacy groups celebrated the fact that the “lingering insult” of the decades-old law will be gone.


Another Threat to Gay Adoption Failed in 2015

Earlier this year, there was another bill on the table in Florida regarding same-sex couples adopting, though that proposed law would have threatened gay adoption rights, not preserved them. HB 7111 would have allowed private adoption companies to deny adoption for gay couples by citing “religious or moral convictions or policies” without risking losing their adoption agency license from the state. Though the bill was presented as a protection of religious freedom, opponents maintained that it was no more than a thinly veiled attack on the equal rights of same-sex couples.

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After lengthy litigation, procedural complications, and back-and-forth court decisions, same-sex marriage became legal in Florida on January 6, 2015. Numerous same-sex couples set off to legally obtain marriage licenses and tie the knot throughout the state right away. While it is understandable that couples would be in a hurry to marry the individual they love, same-sex couples should always take the time to consider the same legal and financial implications of marriage as heterosexual couples. The following are some issues that any couple should consider prior to marriage.

Are you legally eligible to marry?

There are many factors that may make you legally ineligible to marry in the state of Florida, including the following:

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This past summer, a Broward County judge ruled to strike down Florida’s same-sex marriage ban by issuing a decision to allow two women (legally married outside of Florida) to divorce within our state. This decision meant that Florida courts would have to recognize the validity of the same-sex marriage in order to dissolve the marriage, which goes against the state constitutional ban. Unfortunately, the decision was vacated and the divorce case was dismissed in September based on a procedural technicality–not on the merits of the case.

On December 8, 2014, however, Judge Dale Cohen reissued a decision in the refiling of the divorce case that mirrors his August decision to grant the same-sex divorce between wives Heather Brassner and Megan Lade. In his decision, Judge Cohen declared both the constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages in Florida unconstitutional and unenforceable. Brassner is expected to file a request for a Final Judgment of Dissolution as soon as possible and her attorney hopes to have Judge Cohen grant the final divorce prior to the beginning of 2015.

Same-sex Marriage in 2015

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At the Boca Raton office of family law attorney Alan R. Burton, we have been keeping a close eye on the new developments in the many cases taking place in Florida regarding same-sex marriage. Currently, our state constitution defines marriage as only between opposite sex partners and prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. This caused an issue for two women who were legally married in Massachusetts, moved to Florida for some time, and wished to end their marriage. Florida family courts denied the women a divorce because their marriage itself was not recognized, so there was no legal union in Florida to dissolve. The couple appealed their case.

Additionally, several same-sex couples who wish to marry in Florida have brought cases challenging the constitutionality of the gay marriage ban. As we have previously discussed on this blog, two county judges in Florida ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, serves no important government interest, and is unnecessarily discriminatory against same-sex couples and their families. The Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, immediately announced her intentions to appeal these decisions on behalf of the state and its current constitution.

Florida Supreme Court may Hear First Same-sex Case

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On this blog, we have been closely following the numerous cases making their way through Florida courts that pose challenges to our state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. This topic is important to us because instituting marriage equality in Florida will have a substantial effect on the family courts. Last we checked in, several couples were awaiting the decisions of Judge Sarah Zabel in Miami-Dade County and of Judge Luis M. Garcia in Monroe County. Both judges have since ruled in favor of marriage equality, stating the state constitutional amendment was unconstitutional.

Both Judge Garcia and Judge Zabel ordered the Clerk of Courts in their respective counties to grant marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Both judges reasoned that the marriage ban violated the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution. Specifically, Judge Zabel stated the following:

· The ban serves no important governmental interest;

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Several same-sex couples have been involved in both state and federal lawsuits in Florida challenging our state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. As of now, Florida does not recognize any form of gay marriage or domestic partnership, no matter where the marriage took place, and the state constitution defines “marriage” as solely between a man and a woman. One opponent of gay marriage has taken a peculiar action in an attempt to derail one of the lawsuits.

Florida resident Chris Sevier filed a motion in one same-sex marriage lawsuit, attempting to intervene as another type of sexual minority. Sevier did not want to marry another man–instead he requested to marry his Apple laptop computer.

Sevier’s motion states that he fell in love with the laptop after watching copious amounts of pornography on the machine. He claimed that since he prefers to have sex with his computer over anything–or anyone–else, he should be able to marry the computer. His attempt to secure a marriage license failed, however, and he filed the motion.