A state court judge has just denied a request by three anti-gay organizations who asked to be given standing to defend Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel ruled that Florida Family Action, Inc. (FFAI), Florida Democratic League Inc. (FDL), and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, Inc. (PULSE) did not have standing and would not be allied to be parties to the case because they “will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage, or are prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage.” The judge added that the “validity of their own marriages will not be affected,” regardless of the trial’s outcome.
Judge Zabel appeared to have dealt with the groups firmly, noting that the three groups “also assert that they have a direct and immediate interest in this case because granting the requested relief would infringe upon their right to free speech, free exercise of religion, and ‘other rights attendant to operating businesses and non-profit organizations in accordance with the definition of marriage as currently memorialized in the Florida state constitution.’”
Judge Zabel ruled that the case, Pareto v. Ruvin, “will not and could not have any such impact on such rights. Allowing or disallowing the plaintiffs to marry simply would not affect anyone’s right to state their opinions about their marriages or same-sex marriages in general, and would not interfere with anyone’s religion, business, or non-profit organization.”
Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida Institute, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, stated that “Judge Zabel reached the proper conclusion in denying extremists seeking a platform for their anti-gay rhetoric the right to intervene in this case,” and added that the “lawsuit is about fundamental, constitutionally protected rights that are violated by a measure that does real harm to our families. We look forward to the day when Florida joins the 19 other states and the District of Columbia, where judges have come to the conclusion that such a ban is indefensible.”
Judge Zabel will hear the case on July 2.
Image: Several of the plaintiffs in Pareto v. Ruvin. Photo by NCLR
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