Jacksonville lawyers file suit challenging Fla. marriage law

Published On: May 14 2014 02:33:08 PM EDT   Updated On: May 14 2014 10:40:00 PM EDT

The push to overturn Florida's 2008 vote that banned gay marriage is being challenged in federal court. The backing of that legal push is right here in Jacksonville.


Two Jacksonville lawyers have filed suit in federal court on behalf of some gay couples challenging the constitutionality of Florida's law declaring that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

The law, which was on the 2008 ballot, passed with more than 60 percent approval.

The Florida Attorney General's Office has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the federal court has no jurisdiction in the matter and arguing that "…disrupting Florida's existing marriage laws would impose significant harm."

Bill Shepherd and Samuel Jacobson are the Jacksonville attorneys who have filed suit.

“We believe the court has the right, why should heterosexuals, because they’re in the majority, be able to reserve the institution of marriage just for themselves?” asked Attorney Samuel Jacobson.

Jacobson represents a gay Florida couple who were married in Canada and want their marriage to be recognized in Florida, where they live. The couple decided to fight the law.

“It may be politically controversial or from public relations point of view, but none of that is supposed to outweigh legal considerations, we believe the time has come for gays to have same rights as heterosexuals have,” said Jacobson.

“I’m glad it’s back in court, I think it should be legalized, I think it’s ridiculous that it wouldn't be,” said Matthew Birmingham.

“I’m a Christian so I'm gonna go by what the bible says and that's a man and a woman for marriage. And that's all I've got to say about that,” said Pastor Sidney Hardy.

Florida attorney general Pam Bondi has responded in this motion to the court obtained by Channel 4.

In a statement Bondi said:

“This case is about whether States can make their own determination. If the ongoing debate leads Florida's citizens to change their policy – as several States recently have – they may do so.  In the meantime, this Court should, exercise great caution when asked to take sides in an ongoing public policy debate."


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