999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (N.D.Fla. 2014), 4:14cv107-RH/CAS, Brenner v. Scott

Docket Nº:4:14cv107-RH/CAS, 4:14cv138-RH/CAS
Citation:999 F.Supp.2d 1278, 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D 11
Opinion Judge:Robert L. Hinkle, United States District Judge.
Party Name:JAMES DOMER BRENNER et al., Plaintiffs, v. RICK SCOTT, etc., et al., Defendants. SLOAN GRIMSLEY et al., Plaintiffs, v. RICK SCOTT, etc., et al., Defendants
Attorney:Nos. 4:14cv107-RH/CAS, 4:14cv138-RH/CAS For JAMES DOMER BRENNER, CHARLES DEAN JONES, STEPHEN SCHLAIRET, OZZIE RUSS (4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS), Plaintiffs: BRYAN EVERETT DEMAGGIO, LEAD ATTORNEY, WILLIAM J SHEPPARD, SHEPPARD WHITE ETC PA - JACKSONVILLE FL, JACKSONVILLE, FL; SAMUEL S JACOBSON, BLEDSOE J...
Case Date:August 21, 2014
Court:United States District Courts, 11th Circuit, Northern District of Florida

Page 1278

999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (N.D.Fla. 2014)

25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D 11

JAMES DOMER BRENNER et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

RICK SCOTT, etc., et al., Defendants.

SLOAN GRIMSLEY et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

RICK SCOTT, etc., et al., Defendants

Nos. 4:14cv107-RH/CAS, 4:14cv138-RH/CAS

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

August 21, 2014

Page 1279

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1280

For JAMES DOMER BRENNER, CHARLES DEAN JONES, STEPHEN SCHLAIRET, OZZIE RUSS (4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS), Plaintiffs: BRYAN EVERETT DEMAGGIO, LEAD ATTORNEY, WILLIAM J SHEPPARD, SHEPPARD WHITE ETC PA - JACKSONVILLE FL, JACKSONVILLE, FL; SAMUEL S JACOBSON, BLEDSOE JACOBSON SCHMIDT ETC PA, JACKSONVILLE, FL.

For SLOAN GRIMSLEY, JOYCE ALBU, BOB COLLIER, CHUCK HUNZIKER, LINDSAY MYERS, SARAH HUMLIE, ROBERT LOUPO, JOHN FITZGERALD, DENISE HUESO, SANDRA NEWSON, JUAN DEL HIERRO, THOMAS GANTT, JR, CHRISTIAN ULVERT, CARLOS ANDRADE, RICHARD MILSTEIN, ERIC HANKIN, ARLENE GOLDBERG, SAVE FOUNDATION INC (4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS), Plaintiffs: DANIEL BOAZ TILLEY, LEAD ATTORNEY, MARIA KAYANAN, ACLU FOUNDATION OF FLORIDA INC - MIAMI FL, MIAMI, FL; STEPHEN FREDERICK ROSENTHAL, LEAD ATTORNEY, PODHURST ORSECK PA - MIAMI FL, MIAMI, FL.

For GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT, PAMELA BONDI, JOHN H ARMSTRONG, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SURGEON GENERAL AND SECRETARY OF HEALTH FOR THE STATE OF FLORIDA, CRAIG J NICHOLS, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS AGENCY SECRETARY FOR THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES (4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS), Defendants: ALLEN C WINSOR, LEAD ATTORNEY, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL - TALLAHASSEE FL, TALLAHASSEE, FL; ADAM SCOTT TANENBAUM, ATTORNEY GENERAL - PL-01 - TALLAHASSEE FL, STATE OF FLORIDA, TALLAHASSEE, FL.

For HAROLD BAZZELL, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CLERK OF COURT AND COMPTROLLER FOR WASHINGTON COUNTY FLORIDA (4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS), Defendant: JAMES JEFFERY GOODMAN, JR, JEFF GOODMAN PA - CHIPLEY FL, CHIPLEY, FL.

For FLORIDA FAMILY ACTION INC (4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS), Amicus: HORATIO G. MIHET, LIBERTY COUNSEL, ORLANDO, FL.

For FLORIDA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS, INC. (4:14-cv-00107-RH-CAS), Amicus: STEPHEN C EMMANUEL, AUSLEY & MCMULLEN - TALLAHASSEE FL, TALLAHASSEE, FL.

For SLOAN GRIMSLEY, JOYCE ALBU, BOB COLLIER, CHUCK HUNZIKER, LINDSAY MYERS, SARAH HUMLIE, ROBERT LOUPO, JOHN FITZGERALD, DENISE HUESO, SANDRA NEWSON, JUAN DEL HIERRO, THOMAS GANTT, JR, CHRISTIAN ULVERT, CARLOS ANDRADE, RICHARD MILSTEIN, ERIC HANKIN, SAVE FOUNDATION INC (4:14-cv-00138-RH-CAS), Plaintiffs: DANIEL BOAZ TILLEY, MARIA KAYANAN, ACLU FOUNDATION OF FLORIDA INC - MIAMI FL, MIAMI, FL; STEPHEN FREDERICK ROSENTHAL, PODHURST ORSECK PA - MIAMI FL, MIAMI, FL.

For ARLENE GOLDBERG (4:14-cv-00138-RH-CAS), Plaintiff: DANIEL BOAZ TILLEY, MARIA KAYANAN, ACLU FOUNDATION OF FLORIDA INC - MIAMI FL, MIAMI, FL.

For RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA, PAMELA BONDI, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ATTORNEY GENERAL STATE OF FLORIDA, JOHN H ARMSTRONG, SURGEON GENERAL AND SECRETARY OF HEALTH FOR THE STATE OF FLORIDA, CRAIG J NICHOLS, AGENCY SECRETARY FOR THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES (4:14-cv-00138-RH-CAS), Defendants: ALLEN C WINSOR, LEAD ATTORNEY, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL - TALLAHASSEE FL, TALLAHASSEE, FL; ADAM SCOTT TANENBAUM, ATTORNEY GENERAL - PL-01 - TALLAHASSEE FL, STATE OF FLORIDA, TALLAHASSEE, FL.

For FLORIDA FAMILY ACTION INC (4:14-cv-00138-RH-CAS), Intervenor Defendant: HORATIO G. MIHET, LIBERTY COUNSEL, ORLANDO, FL.

OPINION

Robert L. Hinkle, United States District Judge.

Page 1281

ORDER DENYING THE MOTIONS TO DISMISS, GRANTING A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, AND TEMPORARILY STAYING THE INJUNCTION

The issue in these consolidated cases is the constitutionality of Florida's refusal to allow same-sex marriages or to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully entered elsewhere.

The founders of this nation said in the preamble to the United States Constitution that a goal was to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. Liberty has come more slowly for some than for others. It was 1967, nearly two centuries after the Constitution was adopted, before the Supreme Court struck down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, thus protecting the liberty of individuals whose chosen life partner was of a different race. Now, nearly 50 years later, the arguments supporting the ban on interracial marriage seem an obvious pretext for racism; it must be hard for those who were not then of age to understand just how sincerely those views were held. When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination. Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.

The Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 186 L.Ed.2d 808 (2013). Since that decision, 19 different federal courts, now including this one, have ruled on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage. The result: 19 consecutive victories for those challenging the bans. Based on these decisions, gays and lesbians, like all other adults, may choose a life partner and dignify the relationship through marriage. To paraphrase a civil-rights leader from the age when interracial marriage was first struck down, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.

These consolidated cases are here on the plaintiffs' motions for a preliminary injunction and the defendants' motions to dismiss. This order holds that marriage is a fundamental right as that term is used in cases arising under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, that Florida's same-sex marriage provisions thus must be reviewed

Page 1282

under strict scrutiny, and that, when so reviewed, the provisions are unconstitutional. The order dismisses the claims against unnecessary defendants but otherwise denies the motions to dismiss. The order grants a preliminary injunction but also grants a temporary stay.

All of this accords with the unbroken line of federal authority since Windsor. Indeed, except for details about these specific parties, this opinion could end at this point, merely by citing with approval the circuit decisions striking down state bans on same-sex marriage: Bostic v. Schaefer, Nos. 14-1167, 14-1169, 14-1173, 760 F.3d 352, 2014 WL 3702493 (4th Cir. July 28, 2014); Bishop v. Smith, Nos. 14-5003, 14-5006, 760 F.3d 1070, 2014 WL 3537847 (10th Cir. July 18, 2014); and Kitchen v. Herbert, 755 F.3d 1193, 2014 WL 2868044 (10th Cir. 2014).

I. Background

This order addresses two cases that have been consolidated for pretrial purposes. The order sometimes refers to Case No. 4:14cv107 as the " Brenner case." The order sometimes refers to Case No. 4:14cv138 as the " Grimsley case."

A. The Plaintiffs

The combined total of 22 plaintiffs in the two cases includes 9 sets of same-sex spouses who were lawfully married in New York, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, or Canada; the surviving spouse of a New York same-sex marriage; 2 individuals who have been in a same-sex relationship for 15 years, are not married, but wish to marry in Florida; and an organization asserting the rights of its members who lawfully entered same-sex marriages outside Florida. All the individual plaintiffs live in Florida. The details follow.

The first two Brenner-case plaintiffs are James D. Brenner and Charles D. Jones. Mr. Brenner has worked for the Florida Forest Service since 1981. Mr. Jones has worked for the Florida Department of Education since 2003. They were married in Canada in 2009. Mr. Brenner asserts that the state's refusal to recognize their marriage eliminates a retirement option that would provide for Mr. Jones after Mr. Brenner's death.

Brenner-case plaintiffs Stephen Schlairet and Ozzie Russ live in Washington County, Florida. They are not married in any jurisdiction. They meet all requirements for marriage in Florida except that they are both men. They wish to marry and have applied to the defendant Washington County Clerk of Court for a marriage license. During breaks in employment, they have been unable to obtain healthcare coverage under one another's insurance plans because of Florida's challenged marriage provisions. Based solely on those provisions, the Clerk refuses to issue a license.

Grimsley-case plaintiffs Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu have been together for 9 years and were married in New York in 2011. They have two adopted minor children. Ms. Grimsley is a firefighter and paramedic for the City of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Ms. Grimsley and Ms. Albu are concerned that if something happens to Ms. Grimsley in the line of duty, Ms. Albu will not receive the same support the state provides to surviving opposite-sex spouses of first responders.

Grimsley-case plaintiffs Chuck Hunziker and Bob Collier have been together for over 50 years. They lived most of their lives in New York and were married there in 2013. They now are retired and live in Florida.

Grimsley-case plaintiffs Lindsay Myers and Sarah Humlie have been together for nearly 4 years and were married in the District of Columbia in 2012. They live in Pensacola, Florida. Ms. Myers works for the University of West Florida. Ms.

Page 1283

Myers seeks the option to designate Ms. Humlie as her joint annuitant for pension purposes. Ms. Humlie does not receive health insurance through her employer. Because state law prohibits public employers from providing insurance for same-sex spouses, Ms. Myers cannot get coverage for Ms. Humlie on Ms. Myers's health plan. The couple makes...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP
26 practice notes
  • 178 So.3d 55 (Fla.App. 2 Dist. 2015), 2D14-5540, Russell v. Pasik
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals
    • 14 Octubre 2015
    ...that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage, and the Northern District of Florida's decision in Brenner v. Scott, 999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014), which struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. According to Florida state policy at the time of Russell and Pasik's......
  • Russell v. Pasik, 101415 FLCA2, 2D14-5540
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Second District
    • 14 Octubre 2015
    ...that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage, and the Northern District of Florida's decision in Brenner v. Scott, 999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014), which struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. According to Florida state policy at the time of Russell and Pasik's......
  • "It's all about Edie, stupid": lessons from litigating United States v. Windsor.
    • United States
    • Columbia Journal of Gender and Law Vol. 29 Nbr. 1, March - March 2015
    • 22 Marzo 2015
    ...12 F. Supp. 3d 790 (W.D.N.C. 2014); Majors v. Jeanes, No. 2:14-cv-00518, 2014 WL 4541173 (D. Ariz. Sept. 12, 2014); Brenner v. Scott, 999 F. Supp. 2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014); Bowling v. Pence, No. 1:14-cv-00405, 2014 WL 4104814 (S.D. Ind. Aug. 19, 2014); Bums v. Hickenlooper, No. 14-cv-01817,......
  • Running mom and pop businesses by the good book: the scope of religious rights of business owners.
    • United States
    • Albany Law Review Vol. 78 Nbr. 4, June - June 2015
    • 22 Junio 2015
    ...Burns v. Hickenlooper, No. 14-cv-01817-RM-KLM, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100894, at *17-18 (D. Colo. July 23, 2014); Brenner v. Scott, 999 F. Supp. 2d 1278, 1293 (N.D. Fla. 2014); Marie v. Moser, No. 14-cv-02518-DDC/TJJ, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157093, at *2 (D. Kan. Nov. 4, 2014); Rolando v. Fox......
  • Free signup to view additional results
22 cases
  • 178 So.3d 55 (Fla.App. 2 Dist. 2015), 2D14-5540, Russell v. Pasik
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals
    • 14 Octubre 2015
    ...that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage, and the Northern District of Florida's decision in Brenner v. Scott, 999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014), which struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. According to Florida state policy at the time of Russell and Pasik's......
  • Russell v. Pasik, 101415 FLCA2, 2D14-5540
    • United States
    • Florida Florida Court of Appeals Second District
    • 14 Octubre 2015
    ...that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage, and the Northern District of Florida's decision in Brenner v. Scott, 999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014), which struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. According to Florida state policy at the time of Russell and Pasik's......
  • __ U.S. __ (2015), 14-556, Obergefell v. Hodges
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 26 Junio 2015
    ...Burns v. Hickenlooper, 2014 WL 3634834 (Colo., July 23, 2014) Bowling v. Pence, 39 F.Supp.3d 1025 (SD Ind. 2014) Brenner v. Scott, 999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (ND Fla. Robicheaux v. Caldwell, 2 F.Supp.3d 910 (ED La. 2014) General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Resinger, 12 F.Supp.3d 79......
  • Muhammad v. Jones, 061115 FLNDC, 4:14cv379-MW/GRJ
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Northern District of Florida
    • 11 Junio 2015
    ...Cir. 1991). This principle applies even when prospective relief is sought from the official-capacity defendants. See Brenner v. Scott, 999 F.Supp.2d 1278, 1286 (N.D. Fla. 2014); Murray v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ., No. 2:13-CV-822-KOB, 2013 WL 5923725, at *2 (N.D. Ala. Oct. 31, 2013). The Sec......
  • Free signup to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • "It's all about Edie, stupid": lessons from litigating United States v. Windsor.
    • United States
    • Columbia Journal of Gender and Law Vol. 29 Nbr. 1, March - March 2015
    • 22 Marzo 2015
    ...12 F. Supp. 3d 790 (W.D.N.C. 2014); Majors v. Jeanes, No. 2:14-cv-00518, 2014 WL 4541173 (D. Ariz. Sept. 12, 2014); Brenner v. Scott, 999 F. Supp. 2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014); Bowling v. Pence, No. 1:14-cv-00405, 2014 WL 4104814 (S.D. Ind. Aug. 19, 2014); Bums v. Hickenlooper, No. 14-cv-01817,......
  • Running mom and pop businesses by the good book: the scope of religious rights of business owners.
    • United States
    • Albany Law Review Vol. 78 Nbr. 4, June - June 2015
    • 22 Junio 2015
    ...Burns v. Hickenlooper, No. 14-cv-01817-RM-KLM, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100894, at *17-18 (D. Colo. July 23, 2014); Brenner v. Scott, 999 F. Supp. 2d 1278, 1293 (N.D. Fla. 2014); Marie v. Moser, No. 14-cv-02518-DDC/TJJ, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157093, at *2 (D. Kan. Nov. 4, 2014); Rolando v. Fox......
  • Appendix 5: State Laws Relating to Marriage
    • United States
    • Transgender Persons and the Law
    • 14 Mayo 2015
    ...unconstitutional 7. Florida’s ban on same sex marriages was declared unconstitutional on August 21, 2014. See: Brenner v. Scott, 999 F.Supp.2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2015), stay pending appeal denied by Armstrong v. Brenner, 135 S.Ct. 890 (2014) 8. The U.S. District Court has declined to dismiss a......
  • The gay divorcee: marriage equality in Florida and the nation.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 89 Nbr. 6, June 2015
    • 1 Junio 2015
    ...court, although it is actually two cases that have been consolidated because they posed the same ultimate issue. In Brenner v. Scott, 999 F. Supp. 2d 1278 (N.D. Fla. 2014), (35) Florida's Northern District Court of Appeal held in August 2014 that Florida must recognize other states' valid s......