Florida Fighting Same-Sex Divorce
In a month during which same-sex marriage rights significantly expanded to numerous new states, the Florida government still appears to be fighting any marriage equality progress in the Sunshine State. On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced it would not hear appeals of any lower court decisions regarding same-sex marriage at this time. This decision paved the way for many decisions to stand, in which the lower courts found respective state marriage bans to be unconstitutional and overturned them. As a result of these rulings, same-sex marriage is now legal in 32 states plus the District of Columbia. In addition, Missouri recognizes same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, but does not allow the marriages to take place there.
Florida government officials, on the other hand, are not only fighting to keep same-sex marriage banned in the state, but also the prohibition of same-sex divorce. Specifically, Florida attorney Pam Biondi filed a brief in a recent case to fight against the granting of divorce requested by a gay Florida resident.
Details of the Case
Heather Brassner formally entered into a civil union with another woman in Vermont in 2002. The couple later moved to Florida and Brassner claimed her partner was unfaithful and then disappeared four years ago. Brassner has started a new relationship and wishes to formally end her previous civil union. Because she was a resident of Florida, she requested that the Florida courts dissolve her civil union.
Florida courts treated the dissolution of a civil union like the dissolution of a marriage. However, since the Florida constitution prohibits the state from recognizing any same-sex marriages, even if they were legally performed in other states, the courts would not be able to dissolve a marriage that they did not recognize. Though a judge originally found the ban unconstitutional and planned to grant the same-sex divorce, the judge later vacated his ruling due to procedural concerns. Once Brassner refiled her case and Biondi was notified, her office filed a brief arguing on behalf of Florida against the granting of the divorce.
In a time during which numerous other states are moving toward marriage equality and striking down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, Biondi’s office is still actively fighting against such progress. In a previous brief filed in another marriage equality case, Biondi argued that gay marriage would tend to prevent “enduring family units” for children. However, Biondi herself is twice divorced, therefore received much criticism for these statements. We will keep an eye on new developments regarding marriage equality and keep you posted on this blog.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney for Help Today
At the All Family Law Group, we are committed to helping Florida residents with a wide range of family law matters, including marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption, and more. If you have any questions about the state of same-sex marriage under the laws of Florida and how they apply to you, or any other family law issue, please do not hesitate to contact our Tampa Bay office by calling 813-816-2232 for a complimentary consultation at no charge.