Florida DOMA lawsuits dropped; other suits pending
Published February 3, 2005
TAMPA (BP)—Florida attorney Ellis Rubin said Jan. 25 that he is dropping his legal challenges to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, fearful that a loss on the appeals court level or at the Supreme Court would set a legal precedent he wants to avoid.
The news comes after a U.S. district judge upheld DOMA and tossed out two of Rubin’s lawsuits. One of the suits involved a lesbian couple who wanted to have their Massachusetts marriage license recognized in Florida.
But the news out of Florida does not mean that the Defense of Marriage Act—which gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s same-sex “marriages”—is safe. Federal lawsuits against DOMA still are pending in California and Oklahoma, and in a bankruptcy court in Washington state.
“This is just Florida,” the Alliance Defense Fund’s Glen Lavy said, adding that the national homosexual activist organizations “haven’t backed off a bit” in their quest to legalize same-sex “marriage” nationwide. ADF is a pro-family legal organization.
From the get-go Lambda Legal and other major homosexual groups opposed the Florida lawsuits, believing it was a bad legal strategy. In fact, all of the lawsuits challenging the Federal DOMA do not involve the major groups. Organizations such as Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union have yet to get involved, preferring to fly under the national radar and fight for “gay marriage” on a state-by-state basis.
While Massachusetts is the only state with legalized same-sex “marriage,” the constitutional case against DOMA could be strengthened if courts in other states—such as New Jersey and Washington state—followed the Massachusetts’ court’s lead and legalized same-sex “marriage.”
“We are all trying to avoid being in federal court,” David Buckel, director of the Marriage Project at Lambda Legal, said, according to the Tampa Tribune. “Now does that mean forever? No. But right now we’re trying to avoid it …. We’ve got to be worried about racking up losses, and so we’ve got to do the work to get ready for a case to be a win as opposed to a loss.
“We steadfastly believed that this case in Florida was a bad idea.”
The ruling by the circuit judge upholding DOMA has limited precedent. If Rubin had lost at the appeals court level, it would have applied directly to Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Even though they haven’t filed a lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Lambda Legal and the ACLU have not been shy in filing lawsuits on the state level. Both are involved in “gay marriage” lawsuits in California, New York and Washington. The ACLU has filed lawsuits in Maryland and Oregon—although the Oregon case appears moot following the passage of a marriage amendment there—while Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit in New Jersey. Connecticut and Indiana also are involved in “gay marriage” lawsuits. Assuming all the Florida lawsuits are dropped, eight states will still be involved in court defending their marriage laws.
Pro-family leaders say the plethora of lawsuits points to the need of a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although 13 states last year passed state constitutional amendments banning same-sex “marriage,” those amendments are vulnerable in federal court. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is virtually permanent.
Following multiple Election Day defeats, Matt Foreman of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force told the Associated Press: “This issue is going to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, and it’s not going to give a [expletive] what these state constitutions say.”
Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver, who was involved in defending Florida’s marriage laws, said homosexual activists aren’t giving up. Liberty Counsel is a Florida-based pro-family legal organization.
“While the legal strategy has shifted, the goal of establishing same-sex marriage remains the same,” he said. “Apparently, the legal strategy will now focus on establishing same-sex marriage state by state.”
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