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ACLU asks court to halt Fla. ban on recognition of out-of-state gay marriages

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has filed a motion asking a federal judge to immediately stop the state from enforcing laws banning the recognition of lawful same-sex marriages performed out-of-state.

FloridaIn the motion for Preliminary Injunction filed late Friday, the ACLU states that Florida’s marriage recognition bans harm all of the plaintiffs represented in the case by stigmatizing them and their children and by denying them access to state and federal protections.

The motion states that, because the harms to the plaintiffs are ongoing and irreparable, and because there is no harm to the state defendants in ending the bans’ enforcement, the public interest is best served by the court enjoining enforcement of Florida’s bans on recognition of the plaintiffs’ marriages.

The motion comes in a case filed March 13, 2014 in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, by the ACLU and the ACLU of Florida, on behalf of eight legally married same-sex couples.

The ACLU said it has also added Arlene Goldberg, a recently-widowed Ft. Myers woman, as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Her spouse, Carol Goldwasser, passed away last month. The couple married in New York in 2011, and had been together for 47 years.

Since Florida does not recognize their marriage, Goldberg cannot collect Goldwasser’s Social Security payments as other widows do. The resulting financial hardship jeopardizes Goldberg’s ability to continue to support Goldwasser’s parents.

The case is Grimsley and Albu v. Scott, and is one of two federal lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, seeking to overturn Florida’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle consolidated the two federal cases, and rejected a motion by Florida Family Policy Council, which sought to intervene in two lawsuits and defend the state’s marriage amendment.

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