“An injunction would irreparably harm the state of Florida,” she wrote in a 34-page motion she filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee on May 12 that seeks the dismissal of a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed in March on behalf of eight same-sex couples who are seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriages. “Plaintiffs seek to enjoin a duly enacted constitutional amendment and statutory law. Enjoining democratically enacted legislation harms state officials by restraining them from implementing the will of the people that they represent.”
Florida voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Gov. Rick Scott, who is among the other state officials named as defendants in the lawsuit, earlier this year reiterated his support of the marriage amendment. Both he and Bondi — a twice-divorced Republican — are seeking re-election this year.
Bondi argues there has been a “clear and essential connection between marriage and responsible procreation and childrearing.”
“The promotion of family continuity and stability is a legitimate state interest,” she said.
“Florida’s marriage laws, then, have a close, direct and rational relationship to society’s legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units,” adds Bondi.
Bondi says “disrupting” the state’s “existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm.”
“Florida’s discriminatory laws cause serious harm to real families across the state,” said Daniel Tilley of the ACLU of Florida as the Associated Press reported. “Despite the state’s assertion that the harms to same-sex married couples aren’t significant enough to warrant relief, the families living every day being treated like legal strangers by their home state know better.”
Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, urged Bondi to reconsider her position.
“A defense of the indefensible only squanders our state’s resources and delays justice for hundreds of thousands of Florida families,” said the group.
Tony Lima, executive director of Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE,) a South Florida LGBT advocacy group, echoed Equality Florida.
“As the voice of South Florida’s LGBT community, we at SAVE know this issue affects many loving, committed same-sex couples married elsewhere but currently living in Florida,” he said. “Attorney General Bondi should know that what truly causes public harm is discriminatory rhetoric that divides Floridians instead of uniting them.”
The case is among the dozens of federal marriage lawsuits that have been filed since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Gays and lesbians in 19 states and D.C. are currently able to marry. Illinois’ same-sex marriage law takes effect on Sunday.
More than a dozen federal and state judges have ruled in favor of marriage rights for same-sex couples since the DOMA decision.