- On January 21, 2014, six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in state court against Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Court in Miami-Dade Circuit, for refusing to issue marriage licenses to the couples. The case styled as Pareto v. Ruvin was assigned to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel.
- On February 28, 2014, a same-sex couple from Florida who married in Canada in 2009 filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The case styled as Brenner v. Scott was assigned to Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle.
- On March 13, 2014 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Miami-Dade LGBT group SAVE  and eight same-sex couples married in other states asking the courts to order Florida to recognize their marriages. Governor Rick Scott and three other state officials are listed as defendants. The case was assigned to Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle.
- On April 3, 2014, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones filed suit against the County Clerk of Monroe County after they were denied a marriage license. The case has been assigned to Monroe County Chief Judge David Audlin.
These lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of the Florida Constitutional amendment which defines marriage as only between one man and one woman as well as F.S. 741.212 entitled Marriages between persons of the same sex which prohibits same-sex marriage.
Floridians voted 4,890,883 (61.92%) to 3,008,026 (38.08%) on November 4, 2008 to amend the Florida Constitution with: SECTION 27 of the Florida Constitution states: Marriage defined. — Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.
Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Court in Miami-Dade, (defendant in the first case) filed a Motion to Abate the lawsuit. The motion to abate states in part:
- This action, like the Federal Litigation, involves questions of federal law, in particular, whether the provisions of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Constitution that prohibit recognition of same-sex marriage violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This action, like the Federal Litigation, was brought pursuant to federal law, i.e., 42U.S.C.§ 1983. There are no state law questions raised in this action that can be resolved independently of the federal law questions, the same questions that have been advanced in the Federal Litigation.
- Like the Plaintiffs in this action, the plaintiffs in the Federal Litigation seek to have the court enter a declaratory judgment that § 741.212, Fla. Stat and Fla. Const. Art. I, § 27 violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- Based on the identical federal law questions raised in this action and the Federal Litigation, the subject matter of this action is essentially the same as the subject matter of the Federal Litigation.
- The Clerk, a County officer, is the only defendant named in the Plaintiffs’ Complaint in this action. In contrast, the Grimsley Litigation names state officials Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pamela Bondi, Surgeon General/Secretary of Health John Armstrong and Department of Management Services Secretary Craig Nichols. Similarly, the Brenner Litigation names as defendants the Governor and the Attorney General.
- Unlike the Clerk, the named defendants in the Federal Litigation are state officials who have an actual, present, adverse and antagonistic interest in the subject matter of the Federal Litigation.
- Unlike the Clerk, the named state defendants are not ministerial County officers and have standing to challenge or defend the validity of a provision of a Florida Statute or the Florida Constitution.
- Therefore, unlike the Clerk, the defendants in the Federal Litigation are in a position to fully brief the federal law questions at issue in both the Federal Litigation and this action.
- By abating this action pending resolution of the Federal Litigation, this Court will benefit from the full briefing of these important Constitutional issues by governmental advocates representing the State of Florida, instead of having only the Plaintiffs’ briefing on the merits of their arguments that the challenged provisions of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Constitution violate the United States Constitution.
Additionally, abating this litigation will save hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars by eliminating duplicitous lawsuits that require a government legal defense.
7,898,909 Floridians voted on this important public policy. Therefore, the fullest Due Process should be afforded this matter. Denying the fullest Due Process would only diminish a fair image of the court by the public. The Motion to Abate is scheduled to be heard on April 23, 2014.
If Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel grants the Motion to Abate in Pareto v. Ruvin then this case will not be litigated in her court until after the challenge is thoroughly vetted in federal court and U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle issues his ruling.
HOWEVER, if Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel denies the motion to abate then in all likelihood she intends to strike down the Florida Marriage Protection Act.
Florida Family Association has prepared an email for you to send that urges Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel to grant the Clerk of the Court’s motion to abate.
To send your email, please click the following link, enter your name and email address then click the “Send Your Message” button. You may also edit the subject or message text if you wish.
If you wish click here to send your email urging Circuit Court Judge Sara Zabel to grant the Clerk of the Court’s motion to abate.