- (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
A group of same-sex couples in Florida have filed a lawsuit against the state's marriage amendment, which was passed by voters back in 2008.
Six couples filed suit Tuesday, with the legal aid of the Equality Florida Institute, arguing that the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment is unconstitutional.
Equality Florida Institute Chief Executive Officer Nadine Smith said in a statement that most Floridians support their "historic step toward marriage equality."
"These couples have been embraced by their families and communities, but every day, Florida laws are denying them the protections and dignity that every family deserves," said Smith.
"These harmful laws are outdated and out of step. It is time for all families in our state to have full equality under the law."
The suit was filed in state court in Miami; the six couples live in Miami and the surrounding area. Four of the couples are presently raising children.
Back in 2008, Florida voters got to determine whether or not an amendment would be added to their state constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Known as Amendment 2, the ballot initiative stated that "no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."
Amendment 2 passed in November 2008 with nearly 62 percent of the vote, even as the Sunshine State went for presidential candidate Barack Obama, giving the Democrat 50.9 percent of the vote.
In response to the Equality Florida lawsuit, the conservative law firm the Liberty Counsel has declared its intention to defend the Florida marriage amendment in court.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement released on the same day as the lawsuit was filed that the marriage definition of the amendment was "natural."
"This amendment affirms the natural created order of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said Staver, himself a member of an Orlando church.
"Marriage between a man and a woman forms the foundation of society and provides the best environment in which to raise children. It is a fact-children do best when raised by a mother and a father."
The Equality Florida lawsuit is one of several suits being leveled in states like Utah and Virginia where the likelihood of the legislature enacting the legalization of same-sex marriage is considered highly unlikely.