Six gay couples filed a lawsuit in Miami Tuesday to overturn Florida's ban on same-sex marriage.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the couples by Equality Florida, a state activist group. It claims Florida's laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying violate the U.S. Constitution by denying them equal protection and due process.
The couples, who are all from South Florida, are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz, attorney Mary B. Meeks and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
"Today the majority of Floridians stand with us as we take this historic step toward marriage equality in the Sunshine State," Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith said. "These couples have been embraced by their families and communities, but every day, Florida laws are denying them the protections and dignity that every family deserves."
Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello, two of the plaintiffs, have been together for 14 years.
"Florida is our home, it is where we are raising our child, and where we want to get married," Pareto said. "Karla and I wish for our family the same things that other families want. We want to build our lives together, provide a safe and caring home for our child, and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage."
Similar claims have been made in other states, where judges in many cases have struck down gay marriage bans as discriminatory. Florida attorneys said there are lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans pending in 40 states.
Florida voters enshrined a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution in 2008. Attorneys for the gay couples say they believe public opinion is different now and that judges are increasingly concluding the laws are unconstitutional.
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The ACLU of Florida put out the following statement: " We are confident that our work and the work of our fellow LGBT organizations will lead to finally bringing marriage equality to all fifty state, including Florida."