“It’s also [Attorney General Pam Bondi’s] job to make sure that citizens of her state are not discriminated against. And courts throughout the country have resoundingly found that the ban against marriage equality discriminates against gay and lesbian people.”
– Elizabeth Schwartz, attorney in the Miami-Dade case representing six same-sex couples suing for the right to marry
JUST THE STATS
Amount of taxpayer money the state attorney general’s office spent defending the state’s gay adoption ban before losing the case in Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal in 2010. $120,000 of that was used for disgraced anti-gay witness George Rekers
Amount of taxpayer money the state attorney general’s office spent fighting Obamacare for two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional
Amount a heterosexual couple pays for a marriage license in the state of Florida
It’s probably safe to assume that if you’re reading this, Florida has not (yet!) been the lucky beneficiary of apocalyptic lightning bolts or a final-judgment-sized superstorm called, pleasantly enough, God’s Wrath. In fact, you’re probably just sulkily dabbing the humidity from your personal heat index and carrying on with your own miserable existence while allowing others to do the same, right? Silence is easy!
But if the litigious powers that be are to be believed – and when we say powers that be, we’re looking at you, Gov. Rick Scott and sidekick Attorney General Pam Bondi – we should all be down on our knees (wink!) and afraid of everything. Just over a week before a July 2 hearing for summary judgment before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel in the Pareto v. Ruvin case, which seeks to overturn the state’s marriage ban, Bondi cracked open the door and said something like, “Hey, y’all, is this where the party is?” It was probably more like, “I’m here to eradicate the ‘public harm’ the gays intend to inflict on the Sunshine State, because nobody else seems to want to.”
Even though Bondi has already endured the monthlong public-and-press shaming brought about by her quizzical word cloud of bigotry, she filed two motions on June 24 stating that she would pick up the slack on two pending gay marriage cases that she doesn’t think are being defended rigorously enough. It’s her job to protect the will of the people, see, and more than 60 percent of Florida’s people were willed into erroneously voting for Amendment 2 in 2008 because “yes” and “no” are confusing in the context of a rights ban.
“The Attorney General’s office has been actively monitoring this case and other similar actions since their filing, and it has been defending similar challenges pending in federal court in the Northern District of Florida,” the latest motion reads. “Now, with the motion to abate these proceedings no longer pending, with a motion for summary judgment pending, and with the Defendant Clerk of Courts having withdrawn its opposition to the summary judgment motion, the Attorney General seeks to intervene on behalf of the State and to defend the State’s laws.”
But exactly what will that defense consist of? So far, we have history to go on, like that which involves the state’s hiring of disgraced houseboy horror story George Rekers to defend its Anita Bryant-juiced ban on gay adoption through 2010 (when the ban was overturned). If you thought opponents of gay marriage had learned anything since then, you’d be wrong. Hatemonger John Stemberger’s Florida Family Action group and its subsidiaries were denied the right to intervene earlier last month, but that didn’t stop them from filing 50 pages of “expert” drivel on June 17 in which the LGBT community is characterized as promiscuous, disease-ridden and confusing to the power structure of the sexes, whatever that means. Democrats, it’s fair to say, are doubling down on Bondi on the front end of what promises to be a pointless war.
“After the initial backlash to her bigoted comments, Bondi insisted that she was just doing her job,” Florida Democratic Party political director Christian Ulvert said in a statement. “Now it is clear that Bondi is waging an ideologically charged war against LGBT Floridians, going out of her way to waste taxpayer dollars in an effort to stop Floridians from enjoying the same rights as their fellow citizens. Floridians overwhelmingly agree that love is love, and for Bondi to continue to waste taxpayer dollars in an effort to shore up her Tea Party credentials during her re-election campaign is simply unconscionable.”
On June 23, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the majority of the city commission joined Miami Beach in filing an amicus brief with the court stating that the two municipalities supported gay marriage for both psychological and economic reasons.
“Fair and transparent government is the cornerstone of our society. Florida’s same-sex marriage ban compromises our ability to fulfill that promise. In addition to violating notions of constitutional government and basic fairness, the state’s marriage ban keeps the Cities from doing their job. The Court should enter judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor,” the brief concludes.
Of course in Orlando there were two detractors: Commissioner Jim Gray lapped at Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ boots and said gay marriage was not a local issue; Commissioner Tony Ortiz’s mustache had spiritual issues with gays, even though some of his friends are gay. Is it just us, or is everybody who is opposed to gay marriage starting to look really pathetic?
“It is disappointing that at a time when attorneys general and governors across the country are refusing to defend these discriminatory marriage bans, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has decided to pour state resources into defending the indefensible,” Equality Florida chief executive officer Nadine Smith said in a statement. “In decisions by judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, court after court has determined that barring loving same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional, and we look forward to hearing from Florida’s courts in the near future.”
Anyway, as of press time, we had no idea how the July 2 hearing went – check orlandoweekly.com for breaking updates – but we did have an interesting (and somewhat related) quote from Gov. Rick Scott on the issue of discrimination! Last week, two Broward County Republicans were chastised by their party for taking part in the local Pride parade. When Scott was asked about his feelings on conservatives walking down streets with other people for fun and community, the Sun-Sentinel says he answered thusly: “People have different views about a lot of things. I just want to make sure people are never discriminated against.”