The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Central Florida (The Center) is celebrating a major milestone in our path towards full equality for our community with the announcement of a court challenge to the Florida laws that prohibit marriage equality. This is a major step for our state and follows on the progress of major initiatives throughout the nation at the federal, state, and local government levels to ensure equality and liberty for all.
In recent months, numerous courts in several states have either granted the right for same sex couples to marry or struck down state laws banning same sex marriage. Court rulings in Utah and Oklahoma have paved the way for our own state organization, Equality Florida, in conjunction with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, to file a formal complaint with the State of Florida. While the path here in Florida will be a unique one, precedent has been set at the federal level thanks to the Windsor Case ruling of the United States Supreme Court, and its interpretation within the lower Circuit Courts. The Center has seen a watershed of support from disparate members of Central Florida, and we are firm in our conviction that equality for all citizens is in our near future.
Our community and its leaders believe strongly that Article I, Section 27 of the Florida Constitution, which bars the State of Florida from recognizing marriage or civil unions unless it consists of the union ofone man and one woman, is wholly unconstitutional and violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. In addition, two Florida Statutes also include similar language that prohibit state recognition of LGBT marriages, and these will also be challenged in this landmark court filing for marriage equality.
Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBT Community, held a press conference January 21, 2014 to announce the filing of the lawsuit in Miami-Dade County. The plaintiffs were introduced at the conference by Nadine Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Florida. The six plaintiff couples have been together an average of 13 years, with the longest relationship being over 25 years. Five of the couples have children and one even has grandchildren. They are your typical modern Florida family, with relationships that cross ethnic and religious lines.
Equality Florida is the catalyst behind the filing of this lawsuit and The Center commends them for taking on such a task. They are joined by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and are represented by several prominent attorneys including Orlando Civil Rights expert, Mary Meeks.
The Center, located at 946 N. Mills Ave. Orlando, FL 32803 is a non-profit organization dedicated to informing, educating, supporting and advocating on behalf of the LGBT Community and its allies.