[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hampioned by several cities throughout Florida, sexual equality in marriage got the unanimous endorsement of the South Miami City Commissioner on December 2nd.
A resolution authorizing the City of South Miami to be an added party to Miami Beach’s amicus curiae brief supporting marriage between same-sex couples passed without a single dissent. During the meeting, commissioners only had words of support for gender equality at the altar with Josh Liebman asking that State Atty.-Gen. Pam Bondi drop her defense against the measure.
Calling upon her to change her stance against same-sex marriages, Liebman declared: “I encourage the attorney general to not defend this in court any longer.” Mayor Philip Stoddard had additional words about Bondi’s stand, stating: “I sponsored this resolution to have the city sign Miami Beach’s amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage, and in opposition to our attorney general’s ill-considered position that seeks to deprive citizens of basic human rights and which has been found unconstitutional by courts all over this nation.
“We do not know why the attorney general would seek to take away civil rights from citizens in Florida,” he said.
While the local brief will not directly affect state legislation, the action represents an official show of support for legal recognition of same-sex marriages, as requested by the plaintiff’s lead counsel for the pending lawsuit Pareto v. Ruvin. The amicus curiae is a legal term literally translated from Latin as “friend of the court,” referring to action by parties that volunteer information regarding a point of law or another relevancy to aid in making a judicial decision.
In the Miami Beach action, six same-sex Florida couples and Equality Florida Institute are co-plaintiffs challenging Florida’s ban on marriage equality as unconstitutional. All couples involved are from South Florida.
Florida law does not recognize any form of relationship between same-sex partners but a recent U. S. District Court has ruled a pending case as unconstitutional.
Stoddard joined many Florida mayors from Orlando and St. Petersburg to Key West in calling for an end to the ban. Their names will be added to a long nationwide list of mayors found on a “Freedom to Marry” web site www.freedomtomarry.org, identified as the organization that helped initiate the resolution.
“I’ve been a member of this organization for several years, and so they know that they can come to me whenever there’s an advocacy issue that’s up for consideration or in a place where pressure needs to be applied at the political level,” said Stoddard. Founded in 2003, Freedom to Marry credits civil rights attorney Evan Wolfson as the architect of the national marriage equality movement.
Commissioner Gabriel Edmond said he frequently meets new people in the community, many of whom are same-sex couples.
Without further discussion or argument against the resolution, the unanimous vote passed with Commissioner Robert Welsh declaring in a post-meeting comment: “You are what you are.”