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Lawsuit challenges Florida's ban on gay marriage

MIAMI, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Six couples have challenged Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, which was added to the state Constitution in a 2008 vote.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in state court in Miami, the plaintiffs argue that the ban violates "the fundamental rights, dignity, and equality guaranteed to all persons by the United States Constitution," the (South Florida) Sun Sentinel reported.

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"Our ultimate goal is to secure a victory in the Florida Supreme Court holding for the entire state that Florida's marriage ban is unconstitutional so that everyone in the state would be able to marry," said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Opponents of gay marriage say Florida voters should be the ones to make the decision and clearly did so when 62 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment. But public opinion in the state has shifted, the Sun Sentinel said, with recent polls showing about half of Florida residents support gay marriage with Democrats, independents and young people more likely to do so.

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Charlie Crist, who was governor -- and a Republican -- in 2008, recently apologized for his support of the amendment. Crist is running for his old job as a Democrat.

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Florida residents who marry elsewhere currently cannot get their unions recognized under Florida law, although they get federal benefits.

Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber of Plantation have been a couple for 25 years. Greene said they have lived in Florida for years, raised a family there and it is where "we rest our hearts."

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"We are a family. No piece of paper can change that," Faerber said. "But we want to be legally recognized as a family in the state of Florida."

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