The American Civil Liberties Union and its Florida affiliate announced Thursday they’ve filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight same-sex couples challenging Florida’s refusal to recognize their marriages performed in other states.
One of the couples is from Broward and one from Palm Beach County.
The ACLU website has these profiles of the plaintiffs:
Chuck Hunziger and Bob Collier of Fort Lauderdale.
Have been together for over 50 years. Bob is 79 years old, and Chuck is 81 years old. Bob served as a Captain in the U.S. Army in the medical corps in the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces during the Vietnam War.
Chuck is a disabled veteran; he served as an enlisted man in the Navy during the Korean War and spent 18 months in a Naval and VA hospitals. For most of their professional lives, Bob and Chuck worked in New York, Chuck for Mobil Corporation and Bob for MetLife, Inc. Having retired in Florida, they are now involved in local charities, including Tuesday’s Angels, which provides emergency assistance to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. They were married in New York in July of 2013.
Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu of Palm Beach Gardens.
Were married in New York in August 2011. They have been together for 9 years. They are raising two young daughters, ages 2 and 5, who they adopted. They also have two grown sons from prior relationships. Sloan is a firefighter and paramedic for the City of Palm Beach Gardens. Joyce is a consultant for children living with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Joyce and Sloan also own a farm where families in which some members are living with neurodevelopmental disorders can engage in a variety of therapeutic activities.
Joyce and Sloan are concerned that if something were to happen to Sloan in the line of duty, Joyce would not receive the same support provided by the state to surviving spouses of first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice, and thus Joyce would be unable to fully provide for their family’s needs.
“Each of these couples has their own story of how the state’s discriminatory refusal to recognize their marriages has impacted their lives,” Daniel Tilley, an ACLU attorney said in a statement. “These eight couples have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage in the states where they exchanged vows, and the federal government recognizes their marriages as well. It’s time for Florida to stop the harmful practice of treating committed couples as if they are strangers.”
Earlier this year, a lawsuit challenging the state ban on same-sex marriage was filed in state court by a coalition led by the Equality Florida gay rights group.