Florida Gay Marriage Ban Challenged by Six Couples in Suit

Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and its enforcement should be permanently blocked, six Miami-area gay couples said in state court complaint.

Named as a defendant in the case is Harvey Ruvin, clerk of the courts of Miami-Dade County, Florida, whose office is responsible for issuing marriage licenses to area residents. A copy of the complaint was provided by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The filing couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records.

Each of the suing couples claim Ruvin’s office on Jan. 17 denied their request for a marriage license because they were of the same gender.

“When Florida withholds a marriage license from a same-sex couple, Florida circumscribes individuals’ basic life choices, classifies persons in a manner that denies them the public recognition and myriad benefits of marriage,” and keeps them from making a legally binding commitment, the couples said in the complaint.

Gay marriage is legal in 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Officials in two other states, Utah and Oklahoma, are seeking appellate reversal of federal court rulings striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.

Florida’s prohibition, according to the complaint, is codified in two statutes and the state’s constitution, which defines marriage as “the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife,” adding, “no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

Miami-Dade County Attorney R.A. Cuevas didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Pareto v. Ruvin, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County, Florida (Miami).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in federal court in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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