Refusing to be forced to violate personal moral and religious values by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples or provide other services if Florida legalizes same-sex “marriage,” a state county clerk along business owners and churches, filed seven lawsuits throughout Florida on August 5.
Holmes County Clerk Cody Taylor, along with Florida business owners and churches, represented by Liberty Counsel, a pro-family legal counsel, are seeking a declaration the Florida Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is constitutional.
Taylor said she has “a religious view against same-sex marriage and believe that it's wrong,” she fears potential the legal challenges facing her if she upholds the Florida marriage law.
"The impact it would have on my office is I could personally be sued, at some point in the future, because of my refusal under Florida law to grant a same-sex marriage license,” said Taylor, a county clerk since 1976.
Other than county clerks, businessmen and local churches also have reason to defend the state’s marriage law. If same-sex “marriages” were legalized, according to Liberty Counsel, businesses would be forced to provide expensive insurance coverage and substantially alter personnel matters; wedding chapels would be required to host same-sex marriages; notary publics would be required to solemnize same-sex marriages; and churches would face multiple dilemmas.
Liberty Counsel's President and General Counsel, Mathew D. Staver, who drafted the Florida Defense of Marriage Act, believes marriage between a man and a woman will yield the best results for the future of society—the children.
"Marriage is an institution that has huge public ramifications for society, and most especially for our children. It is clear that children do best when raised with a mom and a dad; yet, same-sex marriage advocates promote the myth that gender is irrelevant to children.
“We need to strengthen marriage, not destabilize it, and the people deserve a chance to determine marriage policy,” he continued. “That's why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment."
Florida is one of 38 states to enact DOMA. Of the forty lawsuits nationwide filed by opponents of traditional marriage, seven suits have been filed in Florida by same-sex marriage advocates.
According to Liberty Counsel, fives suits in state court challenge Florida's DOMA and two in federal court challenge both the Florida and federal DOMAs.
Liberty Counsel is also seeking a declaration that Florida and federal marriage laws are constitutional in the cases where same-sex advocates are the plaintiffs.
The separate lawsuits will allow the supporters of traditional marriage to be plaintiff and “afford a better opportunity to manage the litigation,” said Liberty Counsel in a statement.
The plaintiffs are seeking a court declaration in the following cases: Cody Taylor v. Howard Forman in the Broward County Circuit Court, Cody Taylor v. Equality Florida in Monroe County, Cody Taylor v. Sue Nell Clayton in Hillsborough County, Cody Taylor v. James Edward Merritt, Jr. in Orange County, Cody Taylor v. Ruth Berman in Palm Beach County, Cody Taylor v. F.D.R. Sullivan in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and Cody Taylor v. Nancy Wilson in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.