Florida AG Says It’s Her Job To Defend Citizens From “Significant Public Harm” Of Gay Marriage

Florida’s twice-divorced Attorney General, Pam Bondi, released a statement last night in response to the public outrage over her legal brief filed last week, which argued that allowing gay marriage would “impose significant public harm” and “create significant problems for the state’s pension and health insurance programs.”

Bondi claims she is defending the 2008 Florida law banning same-sex marriage because it is her responsibility as Attorney general given her oath of office and to “make good faith legal arguments.”

In a court filing last week, Bondi also suggested that same-sex couples are not capable of providing children with stable or enduring homes (PDF):

“Florida’s marriage laws, then, 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.

In a statement issued last night, Bondi writes:

The subject of same sex marriage is understandably a matter of intense personal concern and sensitivity for Floridians on all sides of the debate. While defending this constitutional amendment, we have remained respectful and showed consideration for those with differing viewpoints—acknowledging in the introduction that this issue is one with ‘good people on all sides.’

“Therefore, I take exception to those who have sought to manipulate our brief, trying to make it something it is not. The brief does not argue for or against same sex marriage as a matter of policy, wisdom, or fairness. Those decisions are for the voters of each state, not for lawyers or courts. It is my duty to protect Florida from the “harm” of a federal injunction overriding the will of Florida voters.

“Some states recognize same-sex marriage, and some states do not. As the brief explains on pages two and three:

‘This case is not about which policy choice is better or worse. And this case is not about whether the debate should continue (which it surely will). This case is about whether states can make their own determinations…We are defending this amendment based solely upon judicial precedent and not the personal views of anyone in our office. Anything else would be bad lawyering–just as in all cases, the personal opinions of the advocates and the judges involved are utterly irrelevant.

Florida’s Sun Sentinel tore into Bondi’s defense of the discriminatory law:

Bondi’s definition of family is nothing short of insulting to the same-sex couples who have adopted and raised children. It also makes you wonder how she feels about heterosexual couples who marry, but don’t have children. Does the state frown upon them, too?

According to the AP story, Bondi believes the state’s pension and health insurance programs would face significant financial and logistical problems if same-sex marriages were recognized.

You have to wonder whether Bondi, or Gov. Rick Scott, or anyone in state leadership read the heart-wrenching story earlier this year in the Sun Sentinel about the end-of-life problems faced by Deerfield Beach partners Chris MacLellan and Bernard Richard Schiffer. The financial and bureaucratic obstacles placed in front of the couple — as Richard faced the cancer that would take his life — showed how the marriage ban deprives gays of the legal rights afforded heterosexuals.

I will dedicate the following quote to Florida’s AG. The quote is from Pennsylvania District Court Judge John E. Jones’ decision last month, striking down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriages:

The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of “separate but equal.” … In the sixty years since Brown was decided, “separate” has thankfully faded into history, and only “equal” remains. Similarly, in future generations the label ‘same-sex marriage’ will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by ‘marriage.’
We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.