SAVE & ACLU file marriage recognition lawsuit

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Today SAVE is excited to announce that the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida have filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight same-sex couples and SAVE challenging Florida’s refusal to recognize the couples’ marriages performed in other states.

One couple, Sloan Grimsley and her wife Joyce Albu, are seeking protections for their children, the youngest of whom is two years old. Sloan and Joyce have been together for nine years and were married in August of 2011 in New York. The couple is concerned that if something were to happen to Sloan, a firefighter, in the line of duty, Joyce would not receive the support for her family that Florida offers to widowed spouses of first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice.

“I’m proud of the work that I do protecting my community, but the law in Florida doesn’t let me protect my own family,” says Sloan. “We just want the peace of mind of knowing that those vows we took to care for one another aren’t dependent on where we are.”

Besides Sloan and Joyce, there are seven other married couples represented in the case, including many with a long history of involvement in SAVE and the local LGBT community:

  • Lindsay Myers, a radio digital content producer, and her wife Sarah Humlie, the Executive Director of the Pensacola Humane Society;
  • Chuck Hunziger and Bob Collier, both military veterans, who have been together for more than 50 years and live in Fort Lauderdale;
  • Juan Del Hierro, SAVE board member and Director of Ministry Empowerment for Unity on the Bay, and Thomas Gantt, Jr., a teacher, who live in Miami and have a 14 month-old son;
  • Christian Ulvert, SAVE Board Chairman and political consultant, and Carlos Andrade, a media director, who married in Washington, DC in 2013 and are interested in raising a family;
  • Richard Milstein, a longtime SAVE supporter and family law attorney, and Eric Hankin, a Miami public school teacher, who have been together 12 years;
  • Robert Loupo, a Miami-Dade Public Schools counselor, and John Fitzgerald, retired, who have been together 12 years;
  • Sandra Jean Newson, a vice president at an agency that works to provide housing for formerly-homeless individuals, and Denise Hueso, a clinical care coordinator at the Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, who have a 15-year-old adopted son.

All around the country, loving couples enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage fully recognized by their state. Why should committed married couples lose protections for their relationships when they come to Florida? As representatives of the local LGBT community, we stand proudly with the plaintiffs in saying that the protections embodied by the promise of marriage shouldn’t disappear because of where you live.

SAVE represents almost 55,000 supporters, many of whom are affected by this discrimination. We stand as plaintiffs in this case to represent those people. This lawsuit will ensure that all of Florida’s same-sex couples who have been legally married elsewhere have all the protections and rights that come with marriage.

We'll keep you updated as the case moves forward. In the meantime, the fight for equality continues not only in court but in our community. You can join our effort to elect pro-equality leaders this year at savedade.org/2014.

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