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Couples challenge Florida's same-sex marriage ban

7:45 PM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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Six same-sex couples are filing a lawsuit, challenging Florida's constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage.

Equality Florida Institute is also challenging the ban. The couples are all from South Florida, and several of the couples are raising children or have grandchildren.

The lawsuit reportedly argues that Florida's laws barring same-sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that marriage provides.

READ: Florida marriage complaint (PDF)

"These couples have been embraced by their families and communities, but every day, Florida laws are denying them the protections and dignity that every family deserves," says Nadine Smith, Chief Executive Officer with Equality Florida Institute. 

Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello are one of the six couples suing. Pareto says in a press release, "Florida is our home, it is where we are raising our child, and where we want to get married."

She adds, "Karla and I wish for our family the same things the other families want. We want to build our lives together, provide a safe and caring home for our child, and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage."

Similar lawsuits have been made in other states, where judges in many cases have struck down gay marriage bans as discriminatory. Florida attorneys said there are about 40 lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans pending around the country.

Florida voters enshrined a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution in 2008. Attorneys for the gay couples say they believe public opinion is different now and that judges are increasingly concluding the laws are unconstitutional.

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist issued a statement on the lawsuit, saying "No one would want to be told they can't marry the person they love. It's an issue of fairness and I'm proud to support it."

Crist, who is looking to once again be governor following the upcoming election in November, previously supported the ban when the amendment was passed under his watch in 2008.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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