Gay rights group pushes for marriage

Oct. 3, 2012 at 12:25 PM
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TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A gay rights group has been encouraging same-sex couples across the United States to apply for marriage licenses, a spokesman says.

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, who represents the Florida chapter of GetEQUAL, told the Tampa Bay Times the applications are part of the group's "Fight for the 14th" campaign. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law.

Jarrod Scarbrough and Les Sewell, who live in the Tampa area, applied Tuesday at the Hillsborough County Courthouse, the Times said. The couple have been together for 19 years and have a 9-year-old daughter, born to a surrogate mother, although only one of them is her legal father.

Sharon Lee, an employee in the clerk's office, first told them Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage.

"It would actually be illegal for me to issue the license," she responded when Scarbrough told her the law is an "unjust statute."

If Scarbrough and Sewell lived in Tampa, they could register as domestic partners. But they say the limited rights they would get -- valid only within the city limits -- are not worth it. They would like the recognition as well as the rights that come with marriage.

"Not being able to get married does hit you psychologically and socially," Scarbrough said. "It's kind of hard to spend 19 years together and only be able to say, 'This is my partner.'"

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