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Monday, August 4, 2014

Marriage News Watch, 8/4/14

Matt Baume of the American Foundation for Equal Rights reports:

And there's more good news today from the Sunshine State, Freedom to Marry reports:

The ruling in today's case, Brassner v. Lade, from Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen, is the third marriage ruling in three weeks, following a July 17 ruling in Monroe County's Huntsman v. Heavilin and July 25's ruling in Miami-Dade County's Pareto v. Ruvin. In all 3 cases, judges ruled that banning same-sex couples from marrying is unconstitutional. All three rulings are stayed, and the two previous rulings have been appealed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

For now, today's decision only applies to Broward County. The next step for the Miami-Dade and Monroe County decisions is review by Florida's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week, the plaintiffs in both cases moved to consolidate their cases and filed a motion seeking review directly by the Florida Supreme Court.

Freedom to Marry applauds the legal team behind today's case, which was filed this year by lawyer Nancy Brodski on behalf of a woman, Heather Brassner, seeking respect for her marriage for the purpose of dissolution.
The Washington Blade quotes Judge Cohen:
“To discriminate based on sexual orientation, to deny families equality, to stigmatize children and spouses, to hold some couples less worthy of legal benefits then others based on their sexual orientation, to deny individuals tax credits, marital property rights, the ability to dissolve their unions from other jurisdictions is against all that this country holds dear, as it denies equal citizenship,” Cohen writes. “Marriage is a well-recognized fundamental right, all people should be entitled to enjoy its benefits.”

A judge appointed by Republican former Gov. Jeb Bush, Cohen draws heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against the Defense of Marriage Act in his reasoning for striking down Florida’s marriage ban. “Further, so long as opposite-sex couples can marry without government analysis of their right to procreate, then so can same-sex couples marry without an analysis of their right to procreate,” Cohen writes.

And the Dallas Morning News today published an editorial opposing the efforts of the Texas Attorney General to maintain the state's ban on same-sex marriages:
Attorney General Greg Abbott often makes the point that government should tread lightly in matters of personal liberty. Yet in a legal brief defending Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, the GOP candidate for governor treads heavily.

Abbott is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that found Texas’ voter-approved ban in 2005 on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. In legal documents filed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans recently, his legal team argued that Texas can ban same-sex marriage based on the state’s interest in couples having children.

Abbott notes that Texas law recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman and argues that, in turn, a heterosexual marriage “increases the likelihood” that they will produce and raise their children in “stable, lasting relationships.” Therefore, the brief continues, “because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals to the same extent that recognizing opposite-sex marriage does. That is enough to supply a rational basis for Texas’s marriage laws.”

That is a legal reach. Actually, state marriage laws are not rooted in establishing “stable, lasting relationships” that produce children but are designed to clarify property and inheritance rights. Creating children has never been a state goal, nor is it a credible argument against same-sex marriages. There also are many reasons heterosexual couples get married that may or may not include having children. Certainly, they would be surprised to learn Abbott thinks Texas has a vested interest in whether they have offspring.

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