Pam Bondi wrong on gay marriage issue

Gainesville SunJune 7, 2014 

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi spoke at the Manatee County Bar Association Law Day Luncheon at Pier 22 in Bradenton in May 2014 PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi contends that recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states would "impose significant public harm."

That statement has garnered criticism but is just a small part of Bondi's wrongheaded approach to defending a same-sex marriage ban destined for the dustbin of history.

A more troubling part of Bondi's recently filed court argument is a suggestion that gay marriage harms children. In addition to being offensive to gay couples and their children, the contention simply isn't supported by research.

Bondi last month filed the court documents in response to a lawsuit against the state. Eight gay couples and the American Civil Liberties Union sued in March, contending that Florida is discriminating against the couples by failing to recognize same-sex marriages in the states where they're legal.

Bondi wrote in her response that Florida's marriage laws "have a close, direct, and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units."

The statement ignores the fact that there are already same-sex couples raising children in Florida. A marriage license would only help to strengthen their families.

Florida rightly ended its ban on adoptions by gay people after a court found it unconstitutional in 2010. The ban only served to deny stable, loving homes to foster children who desperately need them.

To be fair to Bondi, she has sworn to uphold the state Constitution. Nearly 62 percent of state voters approved adding a ban on same-sex marriage to the Constitution in 2008.

But the legal landscape has changed dramatically since the Supreme Court ruled last summer that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia now have legal same-sex marriages, including every state in the Northeast.

If Bondi insists on defending Florida's ban until the bitter end, she should at least avoid political rhetoric that is damaging to the state and unfair to same-sex couples. Let the court do its work, and the sooner the better.

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