Attorney General Pam Bondi said Wednesday that she is prepared to enter into one of the most divisive issues of the election year by joining in opposing a lawsuit that is asking a judge to throw out the state's ban on gay marriage.
"If I am asked, yes (she will intervene) because it is my obligation as attorney general,'' she told reporters at the annual Associated Press Legislative Planning Summit in Tallahassee. "This is a constitutional amendment that voters passed by 60-something percent. My job is to defend that."
Six same-sex couples last week sued the Miami Dade County clerk of court seeking the right to marry, saying the 2008 ban violates their right to equal rights under the law. Voters amended the state Constitution by a vote of 62 percent to ban gay marriage and reject the recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in other states.
She compared it to opposing the proposed constitutional amendment on medical marijuana. If it were to become law, she said, "I have said I'll not vote for it but I'll defend it as attorney general,'' she said.
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Although Bondi campaigned on the promise that she would "vigorously defend Florida’s law banning gay adoption in our state,'' she did not revive the issue after she was elected since the state had lost its lawsuit attempting to stop gay couples from adopting children. The policy had been vigorously fought by her predecessor Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum and the time period on appeal expired before Bondi took office, her office said.
"Gay adoption is fully legal in Florida,'' she said.
If Bondi joins the lawsuit, she would enter into one of the most polarizing issues of this election season. A March 2013 survey by Public Policy Polling found 75 percent of Florida voters favor allowing gay people either to marry (38 percent) or to have civil unions (37 percent).
Gov. Rick Scott has indicated he supports the gay-marriage ban. Democratic challenger and former state Sen. Nan Rich repeated her support for gay marriage at the reporters forum on Wednesday.
And Democrat Charlie Crist — who as the Republican governor in 2008 supported the ban — now sides with Rich and wants the constitutional amendment repealed.
"No one would want to be told they can’t marry the person they love. It’s an issue of fairness and I’m proud to support it," Crist said in a statement issued after the suit was announced.