MIAMI - Six South Florida same-sex couples filed suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, trying to overturn Florida's ban on gay marriage.
The suit, says that the ban stigmatizes gay couples and their children and that it serves no legitimate government interest. Supporters also say that the ban violates due process and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
The suit was filed by Equality Florida, a statewide advocacy group that sifted through about 1,000 potential plaintiffs to set up a test case.
The couples, three male and three female, have been together for years, the suit says. Five of the six couples have children.
They applied for marriage licenses Friday and were turned down by the clerk of court. On Tuesday, Equality Florida filed the suit and held a news conference.
"We stand here for those who have applied for marriage licenses and face the humiliation of being denied,'' Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith said. "We stand here for the children of couples who want to know why their parents aren't permitted to get married the way their classmates' parents are."
Last summer the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage. Federal judges in Oklahoma and Utah have recently struck down gay marriage bans as discriminatory. Lambda Legal, a nationwide gay rights organization, estimates that more than 40 lawsuits are now challenging state level bans.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office is charged with defending challenges to Florida law, did not respond to requests for comment. The ban, which defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman, was established both by legislative action and by a 2008 constitutional amendment that passed with 62 percent of the vote.