Liberty Counsel Intervenes In Florida To Defend The Federal And State Defense Of Marriage Acts In A Suit Brought By Couple Who Obtained A Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage License

Jul 22, 2004

Tampa, FL – Today, Liberty Counsel intervened in federal court to defend a challenge against the Federal and State Defense of Marriage Acts. The lawsuit was brought by two lesbians, Nancy Wilson and Paula Schoenwether, who traveled to Massachusetts and obtained a marriage license, and who are now seeking recognition of that license in Florida. The Motion to Intervene was filed on behalf of Liberty Counsel, a national public interest law firm that is actively involved in defending the traditional family, Holmes County Clerk Cody Taylor, Southwest Community Church, and several Florida business owners.

Liberty Counsel’s President and General Counsel, Mathew Staver, drafted Florida’s Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), which was passed in 1997 by the Florida Legislature. The DOMA states: “Marriages between persons of the same sex entered into in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, or relationships between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriages in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, are not recognized for any purpose in this state.” In addition to DOMA, Florida law also defines marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

The Federal Defense of Marriage Act states, “No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”

Liberty Counsel was involved in defending the first two challenges brought against the Federal DOMA. Liberty Counsel successfully defended the Federal DOMA in Georgia in the case of Burns v. Burns and represented intervenors to protect the Federal DOMA in Connecticut in the case of Rosengarten v. Downes. Liberty Counsel currently is involved in defending traditional marriage in twenty separate lawsuits throughout the nation.

Staver said, “For millennia of human history the fundamental basis of family has been the union of a man and a woman. Scores of studies show that children do best when raised with a mom and a dad. Same-sex marriage would suggest that gender is irrelevant to the raising of children. Yet we know that gender is extremely relevant to children. The effect of the decision by four of the seven Massachusetts judges is now spreading to other states. At least 46 states now have people who have obtained a Massachusetts same-sex marriage license. Soon litigation will occur in those states. The Florida case underscores why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment in order to maintain our long-standing and common sense tradition of marriage.”

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