(ABCNEWS.GO) — Six gay couples filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, the latest in a series of cases across the country that contend such prohibitions are unconstitutional and effectively relegate gay partners to second-class status.
The lawsuit was filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of the couples by Equality Florida Institute Inc., a civil rights organization that works for fairness for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The lawsuit claims Florida's gay marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process.
The couples, many of whom have children and have been together for years, said they see no reason to be forced to move to a state that permits same-sex marriage when they have built lives in Florida. Vanessa Alenier, who is raising a 5-year-old son with partner Melanie Alenier, said they decided to share the same last name to come as close to marriage as possible — but the same-sex ban blocks that final step.
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"We want our son to understand that his family is secure and just as respected as any other family," said Vanessa Alenier. "Melanie and I have worked so hard to build and protect our family, but nothing can come close to matching the protections that marriage provides."