Florida county clerk files lawsuits against gay marriage (13331)


Florida county clerk files lawsuits against gay marriage

Florida lawsuits filed to stop same-sex marriage

Backed by a far-right religious organization, a Florida county clerk on Thursday filed seven lawsuits across the state, asking the courts to uphold the constitutionality of a state law banning same-sex marriage.

A Florida county clerk, backed by a far-right religious organization, filed seven lawsuits across Florida Thursday, asking the courts to uphold the constitutionality of a state law defining marriage as a union between a man and woman. Joining Holmes County clerk Cody Taylor and the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel were more than a dozen notary publics, wedding chapels, and churches opposed on legal, moral, and religious grounds to same-sex marriage. "I have a religious view against same-sex marriage and believe that it's wrong," said Taylor, first elected in 1976. "The impact it would have on my office is I could personally be sued, at some point in the future, because of my refusal under Florida law to grant a same-sex marriage license."

Proponents of same-sex marriage have filed numerous lawsuits in federal and state courts across Florida. Most seek to have the Florida law overturned; at least one demands that the government recognize the union of two Bradenton lesbians issued a marriage license in Massachusetts. The Reverend Nancy Wilson, half of that couple, is a defendant in a federal suit filed by Taylor, Liberty Counsel, Keys Chapel Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Southwest Community Church, three shareholders in a South Florida business, and a notary public who also performs weddings. Another defendant was a subject of the award-winning documentary Ruthie & Connie: Every Room in the House. Ruth Berman, with partner Connie Kurtz, sued the New York City board of education in 1988 for domestic-partner benefits, winning the case five years later. The couple moved to West Palm Beach last year.

A gay rights group is the defendant in a Monroe County suit filed in Key West. In April, Equality Florida assisted six same-sex couples denied marriage licenses in suing the state. "I certainly don't know what grounds they would have for a legitimate suit against Equality Florida," said attorney Karen Doering, who had not seen the lawsuit. Doering said a county clerk is required to uphold the law whether the clerk agrees with it or not. "If he's not comfortable performing the duties of his job," Doering said of
Taylor, "he has a simple option: resign."

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