Lawsuits Against Florida Marriage Laws Dismissed

Defendants of Florida’s marriage laws won a victory as seven of eight lawsuits challenging the state ban on same-sex marriage were dismissed.

Six state court cases and two federal court cases were filed against Florida’s marriage laws. One of the cases, Wilson v. Ake, sought to recognize a Massachusetts same-sex marriage in Florida. Earlier this year, federal Judge James Moody, Jr., dismissed the case, upholding the state’s marriage laws and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Following the federal court decision, six of the remaining seven lawsuits filed by same-sex advocates were dismissed. Only one case remains, titled Higgs v. Kolhage, led by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Moody’s decision in the Wilson case and the subsequent dismissals represent a significant victory for traditional marriage proponents, considering recent court decisions by activist judges in California and Massachusetts that declared same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

Responding to the dismissals, Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, warned that Florida’s marriage laws are not safe until a state constitutional amendment is passed.

“Although seven of the eight court challenges against Florida’s marriage laws have been dismissed, Florida voters can only take comfort in protecting marriage through the passage of a state constitutional amendment,” said Staver.

“To successfully defend marriage, we have to win 100% of the time,” explained Staver. “One loss can have huge repercussions and create a ripple effect around the country.”

“Marriage was not created by the courts and should not be destroyed by them.”

Liberty Counsel and several state groups are working on a citizen initiative for a Florida Marriage Protect Amendment. The proposed amendment reads: “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

Supporters expect the measure to go up for a statewide referendum in 2006. To date, eighteen states have constitutional marriage amendments. Kansas voters approved a state amendment just this week.