Strange Bedfellows Nixed in Fla. Marriage-Equality Case

     TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CN) – Gay marriage opponents and a man trying to marry his computer cannot intervene in the challenge to Florida’s same-sex marriage laws, a federal judge ruled.
     James Brenner and Charles Jones brought the lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pamela Bondi this past February, challenging the constitutionality of Florida laws that deny their out-of-state marriage recognition. An amended version of the case includes more plaintiffs and other Florida officials as defendants.
     Florida Family Action, an organization that opposes same-sex marriage, asked to intervene as a defendant in the lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida.
     U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle denied the group’s request last week, but allowed it to file timely friend-of-the-court briefs on any legal issues the parties may submit.
     Although its request to intervene was timely, no federal statute gives Florida Family Action an unconditional right to intervene in this type of lawsuit, the five-page ruling states.
     Florida Family had claimed an interest in the same-sex-marriage issue, but there is no particularized interest in anything that affects its members directly. No member of the group seeks to enter a same-sex marriage or will be directly affected if others marry same-sex partners, Hinkle said.
     What’s more, Gov. Scott and his co-defendants are sure to defend the lawsuit adequately, making the group’s intervention unnecessary, the court found.
     Giving Florida Family amicus status eliminates unnecessary proceedings and “the likelihood that allowing FFA to intervene would bring forth other proposed intervenors who would assert only generalized political interests and whose participation probably would generate more heat than light,” Hinkle added.
     In a separate April 24 order, Hinkle denied a similar request from Chris Sevier, a Florida veteran who claimed he wanted to marry his computer. Sevier argued that all classes of sexual orientation, no matter how peculiar, deserve equal protection.
     Whether Sevier’s motion was satirical or “only removed from reality,” it has no place in the lawsuit, the judge said.
     Sevier had also filed an amended motion seeking an injunction and declaratory relief on behalf of the plaintiffs, which the court struck from the docket. Hinkle cautioned Sevier that filing or signing a document on behalf of other parties or their attorneys may have serious consequences.
     The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops sought permission Wednesday to file a friend-of-the-court brief in response to an April 25 motion by the plaintiffs to enjoin the state from enforcing the contested laws.

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