Seven Suits Against Same-Sex Nuptials

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A Panhandle county clerk, backed by a religious rights organization, filed seven lawsuits across Florida Thursday asking the courts to uphold the constitutionality of state laws limiting a marriage to a man and woman.

Joining Holmes County Clerk Cody Taylor and the Orlando-based Liberty Counsel were more than a dozen notary publics, wedding chapels and churches.

“I have a religious view against same-sex marriage and believe that it's wrong,” said Taylor, first elected in 1976. “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.”

Proponents of same-sex marriage have filed numerous lawsuits in federal and state courts across Florida. Most seek to have the Florida law overturned; at least one demands that the government recognize the union of two Bradenton lesbians issued a marriage license in Massachusetts.

The Rev. Nancy Wilson, one of the lesbians, is a defendant in a federal suit filed by Taylor, Liberty Counsel, Keys Chapel Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Southwest Community Church and four others.

Another defendant was a subject of the award-winning documentary Ruthie & Connie: Every Room in the House. Ruth Berman, with partner Connie Kurtz, sued the New York City board of education in 1988 for domestic partner benefits, winning them five years later. The couple now lives in West Palm Beach.

A gay rights group is the defendant in a Monroe County suit filed in Key West. In April, Equality Florida assisted six same-sex couples denied marriage licenses in suing the state.