Brenner v. Scott

(Consolidated with Grimsley and Albu v. Scott)

What’s Happening:

 On September 4, three defendants in this federal case seeking the freedom to marry in Florida filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

On November 5, a federal judge denied a request to alter the stay in this ruling, meaning that there is still a stay in effect until January 5, 2015. The state of Florida filed their brief to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on November 14, 2014, noting plans to request an extension of the stay from the 11th Circuit.

 On August 21, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and respect for marriages legally performed between same-sex couples in other states in these two consolidated federal marriage cases. The ruling is stayed, although Judge Hinkle also ordered Florida to issue a new death certificate to Arlene Goldberg, whose partner of 47 years, Carol Goldwasser, passed away this year.

 Case Background:

 Grimsley and Albu v. Scott was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida on March 13, 2014 on behalf of SAVE, an LGBT organization in Miami and eight married same-sex couples seeking respect for their marriages legally performed in other states. Brenner v. Scott was filed by private counsel on March 6, 2014 on behalf of a same-sex couple who married in Canada and now live in Tallahassee. The couple is seeking legal respect in Florida for their marriage license, and have named Gov. Rick Scott and FL Attorney General Bondi in their lawsuit.

On April 30, the ACLU of Florida filed a motion for preliminary injunction asking the court to immediately stop enforcing laws barring legal respect for marriages between same-sex couples, adding a recently-widowed Ft. Myers woman, Arlene Goldberg, as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

 The ACLU explained, “Arlene’s primary income is her Social Security payment; Carol, who had previously been the toll facilities director for Lee County, had a higher Social Security payment than Arlene. For purposes of determining marital status, Social Security looks to the state of residence, and since Florida does not recognize their marriage, Arlene cannot collect her spouse’s Social Security payments as other widows do. The resulting financial hardship will jeopardize Arlene’s ability to continue to support Carol’s parents.”

 The lead plaintiffs in Grimsley are Sloan Grimsley and Joyce Albu, who work as a firefighter and a consultant assisting parents of children with developmental disorders, respectively. The women have been together for nine years, married in New York in 2011, and are raising a 2-year-old child together. The plaintiffs are James Brenner and Charles Jones, who married in Canada in September 2009 and have been together since 1988. Brenner works for the Florida Forest Service and Jones is employed by the state’s Department of Education.