Conservative groups intervene in Florida same-sex marriage challenge

  • John Stemberger

Florida Family Action, led by anti-gay activist John Stemberger, announced today that along with two other groups they have filed a Motion to Intervene in the case of Pareto v. Rutin, the lawsuit initiated last month by six same-sex Florida-based couples and Equality Florida seeking the freedom to marry.

Their lawsuit argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the U.S Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides.

"Today’s lawsuit is nothing more than a publicity stunt,” Stemberger wrote when the suit was filed last month. “Filed in Miami, it represents ‘forum shopping’ in the most liberal legal venue in the state. However, we are confident that Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi will provide a vigorous defense of Florida’s long-held law, and in doing so, will expose the radical views and overreaching legal positions set forth in today’s lawsuit."

Two other groups, People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality and the Florida Democratic League, joined Florida Family Action in the lawsuit, represented by Liberty Counsel, the Orlando-based legal firm.

Liberty Counsel has fought against same-sex marriage issues in other states, and just last week one of its leaders, Matt Barber, criticized an alliance between the American Conservative Union and GOProud over the gay conservative group’s participation at CPAC. "Conservatism does not embrace, endorse and affirm homosexual behavior, homosexual sin,” Barber said. “There is nothing conservative about sodomy.”

The case will be adjudicated by Judge Sarah Zabel, who specializes in family law.

Equality Florida hosted a teleconference Monday night with two of the same-sex couples in the lawsuit as well as their attorneys. Attorney Elizabeth Schwartz said that the legal team was preparing for their next filing in court: "I do expect things will move pretty quickly in the spring or early summer."

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