Florida Court Holds There Is No Right To Transsexual Marriage

Jul 23, 2004

LAKELAND, FLORIDA- Today, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion holding that Florida does not recognize transsexual marriage. Liberty Counsel represented Linda Kantaras in her appeal of an 809-page ruling issued by lower court Judge O’Brien in Pasco County, Florida, which held that gender was primarily a state of mind. The lower court ruled that “Michael” Kantaras (formerly known as Margo) (“MK”), who was born female, desires to be a man and therefore, the “marriage” between MK and Linda did not violate Florida’s Defense of Marriage Act, which limits marriage to only one man and one woman. Today’s opinion declares the transsexual “marriage” void.

MK was born in the state of Ohio as a female. Long after reaching adulthood, MK moved to Texas after watching a program on MTV about transsexualism, began taking testosterone, and underwent a hysterectomy and mastectomy at the Rosenburg Clinic. Typically, female-to-male sex surgeries involve removal of the breasts, uterus, and ovaries but do not include phalloplasty, which is the addition of male genitalia. MK continues to have a functioning female vagina. MK unsuccessfully attempted to change her Ohio birth certificate from “female” to “male”, but an Ohio judge blocked this attempt.

Linda and MK met in Florida. At the time, Linda knew of MK’s sex operation. MK obtained a marriage license in Seminole County, Florida, representing to the clerk that she was a “male.” The two then married, after which MK “adopted” Linda’s biological son. Linda was later artificially inseminated with the sperm of MK’s brother. During the “marriage”, Linda became a Christian and realized that her relationship to MK was improper. MK, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights out of San Francisco, filed for “divorce” seeking custody of the children. Judge O’Brien ruled that a person’s sex is primarily psychological and thus MK should be considered a “male”, and therefore the union between MK and Linda did not violate the Florida marriage or adoption law. In his ruling he stated, “Some jurisdictions prefer to remain in the 19th Century understanding of binary sex that saw male and female as distinct, immutable and opposite.” He further stated that, “Marriage is fundamentally a state of mind.” Finding that it was “unethical” to change Michael’s mind to match the body, he stated that it was proper for Michael to mutilate his body to match his mind. Instead, he found that Linda’s Christian beliefs were problematic because she refused to accept transsexualism, and these beliefs could drive a wedge between the children and Michael. Despite the unanimous testimony that the children want to live with Linda, Judge O’Brien removed primary custody from Linda to MK.

Today’s appeals court decision disagreed with Judge O’Brien, stating that Florida agrees “with the Kansas, Ohio, and Texas courts in their understanding of the common meaning of male and female … to refer to immutable traits determined at birth.” The opinion also stated, “[We] must adhere to the common meaning of the statutory terms and invalidate any marriage that is not between persons of the opposite sex determined by their biological sex at birth. Therefore, we hold that the marriage in this case is void ab initio.” The court also ruled that the question of whether transsexuals are authorized to marry a member of their birth sex “is a matter for the Florida legislature and not the Florida courts to decide.”

Staver said, “Our client, Linda Kantaras, screamed with excitement upon hearing of this decision.” Staver commented, “The law cannot permit a person to change their sex like one changes clothes. This case is a tremendous victory for traditional marriage and common sense, and represents a huge setback for the transsexual and homosexual agenda. A few hormones and plastic surgery do not change a person’s sex, which is an immutable trait fixed at birth.”