Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Supports Marriage Equality

Categories: LGBT News

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Last week, the Board of Directors for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce voted to approve a resolution in support of marriage equality. The chamber, the largest organization of companies in Broward County, with more than 1,400 member businesses, has chosen to support same-sex marriage as a way to attract gay-friendly companies to South Florida.

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South Florida Lesbians Challenge Gay Marriage Law: "We Are Not Second-Class Citizens"

Categories: LGBT News

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Photo by Phillip Pessar via Miami New Times Flickr group
In 2002, Heather Brassner, a Palm Beach County art dealer, and her then-partner, Megan Lade, were joined together in a civil union in Vermont. Though they were initially committed to each other, the relationship fell apart about four years ago, when Lade allegedly cheated on Brassner and ran off with a man.

"My ex cheated on me four years ago and then disappeared with the person she was cheating with," Brassner says.

Because in 2008, Florida voters amended the constitution to recognize only heterosexual marriage, Brassner was caught in legal limbo and was unable to get her civil union annulled.

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Boynton Beach Mayor Cites Dictionary's Definition of Marriage as Reason to Vote Against Gay Rights

Categories: LGBT News

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After receiving a report on workplace equality from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council back in July, on Tuesday evening the Boynton Beach City Commission agreed to give benefits to employees with domestic partners or same-sex spouses. Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor, however, cast the one dissenting vote, expressing that the way the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines marriage is not in accordance with gay marriage and, therefore, they should not be awarded the same benefits as those who are in straight marriages.

Still, the vote -- which ended in 4-1 -- means that those in domestic relationships will be offered the same family benefits currently offered to municipal employees whose marriages are recognized by the state.

Benefits include medical, dental, and life insurance as well as giving the employees family sick leave, bereavement leave, and family medical leave.

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Florida Supreme Court Declines to Hear Gay Marriage Case (For Now)

Categories: LGBT News

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On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court (FSC) declined to hear the so-called Shaw case, regarding a Hillsborough County lesbian couple who are seeking a divorce. The FSC explained that the Second District Court of Appeal must first rule on the case before directing it to the FSC.


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Pam Bondi Appeals Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Categories: LGBT News

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Photo via Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr cc
It had appeared as if maybe she wouldn't, but late Thursday afternoon Florida state Attorney General Pam Bondi filed an appeal notice on behalf of Surgeon General Dr. John H. Armstrong, Secretary of Management Services Craig J. Nichols, and Washington County Clerk of Court Harold Bazzell.

On August 21, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. This meant, had no appeal been filed, that same-sex couples in Florida could start marrying on September 22.

Equality Florida Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer said in a statement that the fault lies with Gov. Rick Scott.

"Make no mistake, the responsibility for today's appeal belongs to Gov. Scott," Pollitzer said. "This appeal would not be moving forward without his full support."

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Florida's Same-Sex Couples Could Start Marrying on September 22 If Rick Scott Team Lets Court Ruling Stand

Categories: LGBT News

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Photo Credit: George Martinez
According to Equality Florida, one of the state's leading LGBT rights organizations, same-sex marriages could begin in Florida as early as September 22, if by September 21 no one appeals last week's ruling in a federal case made by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle.

On August 21, Hinkle ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Any appeal of his decision would need to be filed within 30 days.

Only three people -- two of them Rick Scott appointees -- have the authority to intervene and file an appeal. If they fail to act within 30 days, Hinkle's ruling will stand, making gay marriage legal throughout the state.

Though Hinkle placed a stay on his decision that could persist for months, Equality Florida does not believe this will be the case.

"If there is no appeal by midnight on Monday, Sept. 22nd, then Judge Hinkle's ruling that Florida's marriage ban is unConstitutional will stand and the ban will fall. We have every expectation that if there no appeal and the deadline passes, then Judge Hinkle would almost immediately lift the stay on this ruling," said Stratton Politzer, Deputy Director for Equality Florida.

Meanwhile, the Shaw case from Central Florida has been sent straight to the Florida Supreme Court, and the merged Pareto-Huntsman case in South Florida is still pending approval whether it will also be sent directly to the state's Supreme Court. Since it is uncertain whether the Florida Supreme Court will take up these cases (anytime soon), Hinkle's ruling at the federal level, if it is not appealed, would stand in expediently bringing marriage equality to Florida. If the federal case were to be appealed, it would be redirected to the Supreme Court of the United States. Though SCOTUS is the final arbiter of federal constitutional questions, it would be under no obligation to take up the case.

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Gay Marriage Question One Step Closer to the Florida Supreme Court

Categories: LGBT News

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Photo credit: George Martinez
In what has been a hot summer in the fight for marriage equality in the Sunshine State, the Second District Court of Appeal today asked the Florida Supreme Court (FSC) to decide whether the state's 2008 ban on same-sex marriage is Constitutional.

A clerk at the office of the Florida Supreme Court confirmed to New Times that the case was filed today. If the justices at the FSC agree to take up the case, they will hear a case involving two Tampa women, Mariama Shaw and Keiba Shaw, who were married in Massachusetts and are now seeking a divorce.

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Florida's First Openly Gay Judge Calls on State Not to Appeal Latest Federal Ruling

Categories: LGBT News

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On Thursday, in a 33-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Florida's Northern District in Tallahassee became the fifth judge in the state to rule against the same-sex marriage ban. Like the previous rulings, however, Hinkle immediately stayed his ruling, meaning that gay and lesbian couples still can't get marriage licenses.

Following Hinkle's ruling, Rand Hoch, Florida's first openly gay judge, called on the state -- particularly Rick Scott -- to refrain from appealing Hinkle's federal court decision.

"Without an appeal, the matter of marriage equality will finally become settled uniformly throughout the state," Hoch said in a statement via the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. "Gay and lesbian Floridians will then be able to have their relationships -- and their marriages -- formally recognized."

See also: Gay-Rights Group Demands Pam Bondi Get Out of the Way

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Broward Commissioners Support Same-Sex Marriage With Resolution

Categories: LGBT News

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In the midst of four judges ruling that the ban on same-sex in Florida is unconstitutional and Attorney General Pam Bondi's blowback of those rulings, Broward County Commissioners have stepped up to show their support for same-sex marriage by passing a resolution on Tuesday.

Along with the resolution, which was passed unanimously, commissioners requested that the county attorney investigate ways to withhold county tax dollars that would be used in litigation to fight gay marriage.

The resolution and request send a clear signal that Broward County's leadership is in disagreement with Bondi's filing a motion to freeze the rulings and saying that the issue should be handled by the U.S. Supreme Court rather than judges in Florida.

See also: Broward County Judge Rules for Same Sex Marriage in Florida

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Gay-Rights Group Demands Pam Bondi Get Out of the Way

Categories: LGBT News

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Even with four Florida judges ruling in the past three weeks that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, State Attorney General Pam Bondi has stepped in to appeal and keep same-sex marriage illegal in Florida.

On Friday, Bondi filed two motions in a state appeals court requesting a freeze on appeals by same-sex couples who are challenging Florida's gay marriage ban. With the motions, Bondi wants the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether states have the right to ban gay marriage. Her contention is that it would be a burden on the state's taxpayers to keep bringing these issues to court.

But the same group that sent Bondi 7,000 signed petitions asking her to "stop wasting taxpayer resources defending the state's discriminatory exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage" are calling her out.

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