Marriage Equality USA

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Lawsuits - Resolved

Aaron R. Huntsman and William Lee Jones v. Amy Heavelin

Case #: 2014-CA-305-K
Court Level: Third District Court of Appeal (state)
Date Filed: 2 April 2014
Date of Ruling: 6 January 2015


  • Aaron Huntsman 42, and William Jones 43, filed suit against Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin after her office refused to issue them a marriage license.
  • The men are being represented by attorney Bernadette Restivo of the Key Largo law firm Restivo, Reilly & Vigil-Fariñas.
  • The case was assigned to Monroe County Chief Judge David Audlin. The plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of the Florida laws that exclude same-sex couples from marriage.
  • 20 May 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment on.
  • 22 May 2014, a Request For Hearing On Case of Major Public Importance was filed.
  • 17 July 2014, Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia ruled that the Florida ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional and that the defendant/Monroe County FL should begin issuing marriage licenses to the plaintiffs and other “similarly situated same-sex couples” effective 22 July 2014. The ruling applies to Monroe County only.
  • The ruling was stayed.
  • 28 August 2014, the appeal court rejected the request by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to delay proceedings. Along with denying Bondi’s request, the court granted a motion to consolidate the this case and Pareto (below) into a single case as it moves forward in court.
  • 13 October 2014, Attorney General Pam Bondi said she wants the Florida Supreme Court to decide once-and-for-all whether same-sex couples can marry in the Sunshine State. 
  • 2 January 2015, the plaintiffs and the defendant Clerk jointly move to have the stay lifted immediately. (See the Pareto case below.)
  • 6 January 2015, marriage equality statewide in Florida! (Same-sex marriage is legal.)
  • 7 July 2015, the Third District Court of Appeal voluntarily dismissed two state court marriage cases appeals: Pareto and Huntsman.
Catherina Pareto, et al., v. Miami-Dade County Court Clerk Harvey Ruvin

Case #: 2014-1661-CA-01 
Court Level: Third District Court of Appeal (state)
Date Filed: 1 January 2014
Date of Consolidation: 28 August 2014
Date of Ruling: 5 January 2015


  • This case challenges the 2008 FL constitutional ban on same-gender marriage.
  • 26 February 2014, the anti-LGBT group Liberty Counsel (author of the ban) requested permission to intervene in the case, along with PULSE (African-American churches), the Florida Democratic League, and the anti-gay Florida Family Policy Council.
  • 3 June 2014 an order was issued denying the intervention.
  • A motion for summary judgment was scheduled to be heard on 2 July 2014.
  • 2 July 2014, oral argument was heard before Judge Sarah Zabel in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court. During the hearing, Matt Staver, attorney for the anti-gay Liberty Council, presented an anti-marriage equality amicus brief and pushed the thoroughly discredited Regnerus study to the judge.
  • 25 July 2014, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel ruled that FL's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional, and ordered the Miami-Dade County Clerk to stop enforcing the constitutional amendment. The ruling applied to Miami-Dade County only.
  • The ruling was stayed.
  • 28 August 2014, the appeal court rejected the request by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to delay proceedings. Along with denying Bondi’s request, the court granted a motion to consolidate the this case and Huntsman (above) into a single case as it moves forward in court.
  • 22 December 2014, defendant Clerk of the Courts for Miami-Dade County Harvey Ruvin filed a Motion for Clarification. He asked the Court, in light of developments in the federal case, "to clarify whether the stay imposed in the Order shall remain in effect after January 5 while this case is pending on appeal."
  • 30 December 2014, Judge Zabel scheduled a hearing on the motion at the Miami County Courthouse on Monday, 5 January 2015 at 11:00 am EST.
  • 3 January 2015, the plaintiffs filed their Response motion to Harvey Ruvin's December 22nd Motion for Clarification, asking Judge Sarah Zabel to lift the stay on her ruling that declared the anti-gay marriage ban unconstitutional. "In light of these developments, Plaintiffs request that this Court lift its stay of its July 25, 2014 ruling immediately.  Lifting the stay would be consistent with the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court and federal circuit and district courts in similar cases in which orders striking down state marriage bans have been permitted to go into effect while appeals are pending." The motion also states that "maintaining the stay in this case is no longer warranted and would have no practical effect other than to cause potential confusion."
  • 5 January 2015, Miami-Dade County judge lifts stay - clearing the way for same-sex couples in this county to marry right away. Licenses were issued beginning around noon local time. Marriages happening in Miami-Dade! Woot!
  • 6 January 2015, marriage equality statewide in Florida! (Same-sex marriage is legal.)
  • 7 July 2015, the Third District Court of Appeal voluntarily dismissed two state court marriage cases 
Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell's Emergency Petition for Declaratory Judgment

Case #: 2014-CA-13275
Court Level: Circuit Court of Orange County FL (state court)
Date Filed: 30 December 2014
Ruling Date: 
30 December 2014


  • 30 December 2014, Tiffany Moore Russell, Clerk of the Courts for Orange County FL, filed an Emergency Petition requesting clarity re: the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses and requesting that "the Court enter an order determining that she is within her legal right to issue same-sex marriage licenses on January 6, 2015." 
  • 30 December 2014, a Florida State Judge cleared the way for Orange County to issue marriage licenses when the federal stay expires next week. Circuit Judge Timothy R. Shea issued an Order granting Russel's Emergency Petition
Brassner v. Lade

Case #: 13-0120s8 (37)
Court Level: State Trial Court
Date Filed: 26 June 2014
Ruling Date: 
4 August 2014 and 18 December 2014


  • Heather Brassner and Megan Lade entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2002. The two split four years ago, and Lade apparently disappeared. Brassner hasn't been able to find her even with the help of a private investigator. Vermont has since passed full marriage equality for same-sex couples, but under their previous civil union laws, both couples must be present to sign off on the dissolution of the union. Brassner would like to be able to marry her new partner, and is seeking a divorce granted in absentia in Florida.
  • Brassner has been a legal resident of Florida for 14 years, but the state doesn't recognize her civil union with Lade.
  • 26 June 2014,  Brassner filed suit challenging the constitutionality of FL's ban on marriage equality and civil unions.
  • 4 August 2014, Judge Dale Cohen, a Broward County judge, ruled that the state's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. Judge Cohen said he was not prepared to grant the divorce without addressing the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the state of Florida. The decision came after a judge in Monroe County became the first to overturn the Florida ban on 17 July 2014, and a Miami-Dade County judge made a similar ruling eight days later. This ruling applies to Broward County only and is expected to be stayed. 
  • 9 September 2014, Judge Cohen vacated his August 4th ruling after learning that Brassner's attorney had not properly notified the state when the case began. Cohen canceled a hearing set for the next day to finalize the dissolution of Brassner’s 2002 Vermont civil union with ex-partner Megan Lade, and wrote that “the Parties may schedule a rehearing” in the case.
  • 15 September 2014, AG Pam Bondi filed a motion to intervene
  • 8 December 2014, Judge Dale issued a new decision, reaffirming that the state's ban is unconstitutional. NOTE: The order is dated 3 August 2014, the date of the first order issued in the case. Several people, including team members at Equality Florida and Freedom to Marry are working to get clarification and we'll update when we have more information.
  • 17 December 2014, final hearing in this case, in which a state judge has (twice!) declared Florida's marriage ban unconstitutional.
  • 18 December 2014, the Final Judgment of Dissolution was issued. This was the first same-sex divorce ever in the state Florida.
  • 1 January 2015, Nancy Brodski, Esq., trial counsel for Heather Brassner in this case, issued a statement on 1 January 2015 in response to Judge Hinkle's ruling that day in Brenner/Grimsley.
Simpson v. Bondi (Re: Estate of Frank C. Bangor)

Case #: 502014CP001857XXXXMB
Court Level: State Trial Court - Probate Division
Date Filed: May 2014
Date of Ruling: 5 August 2014


  • Following Frank Bangor's death, his husband W. Jason Simpson sought to be appointed the personal representative for his estate under the Florida Probate Code (which only allows out-of-state “spouses” to be appointed). He is challenging the Florida ban on recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples that were legally entered into outside of FL. The two men, together 37 years, were married 23 October 2013, in Delaware. Frank died 13 March 2014.
  • 12 May 2014, an amended petition for administration was filed. 
  • 15 July 2014, a memorandum of law was filed in support of the amended petition. A hearing on the petition was held the same day.
  • 5 August 2014, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis ordered that the men's marriage should be recognized and that Simpson should be appointed the personal representative in his husband's estate. 
D.M.T. v. T.M.H.

Case #: SC12-261
Date Filed: 23 December 2011
Ruling Date: 7 November 2013


  • The case involved a lesbian couple who decided to have a child by one partner (T.M.H.) providing fertilized ova to the other (D.M.T.), who carried and gave birth to the child and later, after the couple separated, contested her former partner's parental rights.
  • The Florida Supreme Court recognized for the first time that a child can have two legal mothers.

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