January 21, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Same-sex marriage lawsuit filed in Florida

Catherina Pareto, Karla Arguello, Florida, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello are among six same-sex couples challenging Florida’s gay marriage ban. (Photo courtesy of Erik Olvera/National Center for Lesbian Rights)

Six same-sex couples on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging Florida’s gay marriage ban.

Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello, Dr. Juan Carlos Rodríguez and David Price, Vanessa and Melanie Alenier, Todd and Jeff Delmay, Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Díaz joined their lawyers and representatives from the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Florida at a press conference in Miami Beach. Each of the couples sought to apply for marriage licenses at the Miami-Dade County Courts’ clerk’s office on Jan. 17.

The Equality Florida Institute is also named in a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in Miami.

Harven Ruvin, clerk of the Miami-Dade County Courts, is named as a defendant.

“Florida is our home, it is where we are raising our child, and where we want to get married,” said Pareto, who has been with Arguello for 14 years and with whom she has 15-month-old son in a press release. “Karla and I wish for our family the same things that other families want. We want to build our lives together, provide a safe and caring home for our child, and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage.”

Florida voters in 2008 approved a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Equality Florida announced shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court last June found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional that the organization was looking for plaintiffs to challenge the Sunshine State’s gay nuptials ban.

“Governor [Rick] Scott supports traditional marriage,” the governor’s spokesperson, John Tupps, told the Washington Blade. “Florida voters amended the State Constitution in 2008 to define marriage as between a man and a woman.”

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is challenging Scott as a Democrat, in 2006 signed a petition in support of the constitutional amendment. The one-time Republican who has faced persistent questions about his sexual orientation late last year said he now regrets his decision.

“I’m proud to support the lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on marriage equality,” wrote Crist on his Twitter page on Tuesday. “It’s an issue of fairness.”

18 states and D.C. have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 6 blocked any future same-sex marriages from taking place in Utah pending the outcome of an appeal of a federal judge’s December ruling that struck down the state’s gay nuptials ban. A federal judge in Oklahoma last week struck down the Sooner State’s constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Same-sex marriage lawsuits have also been filed in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and other states.

“These harmful laws are outdated and out of step,” said Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith. “It is time for all families in our state to have full equality under the law.”

The Washington Blade will have more details as they become available.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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