County Clerk, Business Owners And Churches File Seven Lawsuits In Florida Seeking Declaration That Florida's Marriage Laws Are Constitutional

Aug 5, 2004

Orlando, FL - Today Holmes County Clerk Cody Taylor, along with Florida business owners and churches, filed seven lawsuits throughout Florida, seeking a declaration that Florida's marriage laws that preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman are constitutional. The plaintiffs are represented by Liberty Counsel, a national public interest law firm that is actively involved in defending marriage laws throughout the country. Liberty Counsel's President and General Counsel, Mathew D. Staver, drafted the Florida Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") which prohibits same-sex marriages in Florida.

Florida law preserves marriage, as it has existed since the inception of this country, as one man and one woman. Almost forty lawsuits have been filed recently by opponents of traditional marriage. In the last few months, seven suits have been filed in Florida by same-sex marriage advocates. The fives suits in state court challenge Florida's DOMA, and the two in federal court challenge both the Florida and federal DOMAs.

In each court where marriage has been attacked, the current suits filed by Liberty Counsel seek a declaration that the Florida and federal DOMAs are constitutional. The plaintiffs are seeking a court declaration in the following cases: Cody Taylor v. Howard Forman in the Broward County Circuit Court, Cody Taylor v. Equality Florida in Monroe County, Cody Taylor v. Sue Nell Clayton in Hillsborough County, Cody Taylor v. James Edward Merritt, Jr. in Orange County, Cody Taylor v. Ruth Berman in Palm Beach County, Cody Taylor v. F.D.R. Sullivan in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and Cody Taylor v. Nancy Wilson in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Although Liberty Counsel has already filed motions to directly intervene in most of these suits, today's action of filing separate declaratory suits will allow these clients to be plaintiffs rather than defendants, and will afford a better opportunity to manage the litigation.

The clients of Liberty Counsel include County Clerks, who would be forced to issue same-sex marriage licenses; businesses, which would be forced to provide expensive insurance coverage and substantially alter personnel matters; wedding chapels, which would be required to host same-sex marriages; notary publics, who would be required to solemnize same-sex marriages; and churches, which would face multiple dilemmas.

Staver said, "Marriage is an institution that has huge public ramifications for society, and most especially for our children. It is clear that children do best when raised with a mom and a dad; yet, same-sex marriage advocates promote the myth that gender is irrelevant to children. We need to strengthen marriage, not destabilize it, and the people deserve a chance to determine marriage policy. That's why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment."

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