Sun Sentinel - Marriage equality is sweeping the country with staggering speed, a wave destined to hit Florida.
Yet Florida leaders — starting with Attorney General Pam Bondi — continue to fight the inevitable, keeping our state on the wrong side of history.
In the latest salvo against same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reports that Bondi argued in court documents last week that recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states would disrupt existing marriage law and "impose significant public harm."
Bondi is asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit by eight gay couples that argues that Florida is discriminating against them by not recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to court July 2 in Miami.
Florida voters banned same-sex marriage with a constitutional amendment in 2008. In the years since, however, the courts and public sentiment have been moving deliberately toward the side of equality.
In the last month alone, federal judges have struck down bans on same-sex marriage in four states, declaring them unconstitutional. It seems every month, leaders in another state are giving up the fight against marriage equality. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states, with Illinois coming on board June 1.
Most importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, granting federal recognition to same-sex couples. According to the Human Rights Campaign, no state bans have since survived a court challenge.
Yet Florida continues to fight for the right to discriminate.
In court papers, Bondi said, "Florida's marriage laws, then, have a close, direct and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units."
Bondi's definition of family is nothing short of insulting to the same-sex couples who have adopted and raised children. It also makes you wonder how she feels about heterosexual couples who marry, but don't have children. Does the state frown upon them, too?
According to the AP story, Bondi believes the state's pension and health insurance programs would face significant financial and logistical problems if same-sex marriages were recognized.
You have to wonder whether Bondi, or Gov. Rick Scott, or anyone in state leadership read the heart-wrenching story earlier this year in the Sun Sentinel about the end-of-life problems faced by Deerfield Beach partners Chris MacLellan and Bernard Richard Schiffer. The financial and bureaucratic obstacles placed in front of the couple — as Richard faced the cancer that would take his life — showed how the marriage ban deprives gays of the legal rights afforded heterosexuals.
Floridians understand the concepts of fairness and dignity for all. That's why, in a recent Quinnipiac poll, 56 percent of those polled supported allowing same-sex marriage, with 39 percent opposed. Polling nationally shows similar results.
The fight against equality and same-sex marriage is a battle the state of Florida is destined to lose, with good reason. The highest court in the land has ruled. Rather than spend more tax dollars fighting to enshrine a discriminatory policy, Bondi and our other leaders should listen to the people and work harder to represent us. All of us.
From our media partner Sun Sentinel