The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [press release] Wednesday on behalf of eight same-sex couples [ACLU backgrounder] against Florida challenging the state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. The lawsuit [complaint, PDF], filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website], names Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health John H. Armstrong and Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services Craig J. Nichols as defendants. The action challenges the constitutionality of Article I, Sec. 27 [text] of the Florida Constitution and Sec. 741.212, Fla. Stat. [text], which prohibit Florida from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples that were entered into in other jurisdictions. It is unclear when the court will hear arguments or issue a ruling on the case.
The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community, with legal challenges currently before numerous state and federal courts. Last week four Indiana same-sex couples filed suit [JURIST report] against the state in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] seeking to strike down the state's Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. In the same week four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in Wyoming state court challenging the constitutionality of the state's restriction of marriage to one man and one woman. Also in March a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website] refused to block [JURIST report] the state's ban on same-sex marriage pending outcome of a trial.