Judge Denies Anti-Gay Group’s Motion To Intervene In Marriage Equality Lawsuits

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Tallahassee – A federal judge rejected a motion by an anti-gay group to intervene in two of Florida’s marriage equality lawsuits.

Greg Kabel

On April 24, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle denied a request by Florida Family Action, Inc. represented by the Liberty Counsel, to intervene the cases. The first is Grimsley v. Scott—a lawsuit filed by eight Florida same-sex couples legally married elsewhere who are fighting to have their marriages recognized in Florida. The second lawsuit is Brenner v. Scott—filed on behalf of a couple who got married in Canada, now live in Tallahassee, and want Florida to recognize their marriage.

The ruling states that in order to intervene, Florida Family Action must either cite a federal statute giving them that right or demonstrate a direct interest in the issue argued in the case.

“No FFA member seeks to enter a same-sex-marriage or will be directly affected if others enter same-sex marriages. FFA’s generalized interest in opposing same-sex marriage does not entitle FFA to intervene,” the ruling reads.

FFA will be allowed to file amicus briefs on any legal issue submitted by the parties in the case, but Hinkle’s ruling states “FFA’s intervention would bring little additional value.”
In February, the Liberty Counsel filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed Jan. 21 by Equality Florida Institute and six South Florida couples fighting for their right to marry. That motion was on behalf of Florida Family Action, People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality and Florida Democratic League. Florida Family Action is a partner group of Florida Family Policy Council, run by notorious anti-gay activist John Stemberger.

According to Mary Meeks, an Orlando attorney who is representing the plaintiffs in that case, the hearing on the motion to intervene is set for May 14.

“The issues in the two cases are similar but not the same,” Meeks said, noting that there are three parties trying to intervene in her case compared to just one in the cases Hinkle ruled on.

She added that the legal standards are different for federal and state court, and her case is filed in state court.

“Glad the federal judge [ruled against the group attempting to intervene],” Meeks said.

It’s not the only ruling Hinkle has made in the Grimsley and Brenner cases. On April 21, he ruled to consolidate the two cases, and they’ll share a docket. That ruling also set a series of deadlines for both plaintiffs and defendants to request various injunctions.

From our media partner Watermark


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