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Six Same-Sex Couples File Lawsuit For Marriage Rights In Florida

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Six same-sex couples and the Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit Tuesday to expand marriage rights in Florida, according to a release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The lawsuit in Florida state court argues that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it denies gay and lesbian couples the "legal protections and equal dignity" that marriage provides.

Four of the couples involved in the lawsuit have minor children. Catherine Pareto, who owns a financial planning firm, and her partner, Karla Arguello, are raising their 15-month-old son. They have been together for 14 years.

“Florida is our home, it is where we are raising our child, and where we want to get married," Pareto said in a statement. "Karla and I wish for our family the same things that other families want. We want to build our lives together, provide a safe and caring home for our child, and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage.”

The six couples are from Miami and the surrounding region. They're represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and two other Florida attorneys, Elizabeth F. Schwartz and Mary B. Meeks.

"The law should support families, not make it harder for committed couples to support one another and protect their children," said Shannon Minter, legal director at the lesbian rights center. "Barring same-sex couples from marriage causes great harms to their families and children while helping no one.”

Charlie Crist, a leading Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, threw his support behind the same-sex couples in a statement to The Huffington Post.

"No one would want to be told they can’t marry the person they love. It’s an issue of fairness and I’m proud to support it," Crist said.

Scott's press secretary, Jackie Schultz, issued a statement: "Governor Scott supports traditional marriage. Florida voters amended the State Constitution in 2008 to define marriage as between a man and a woman."

The story has been updated with comment from Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.

Luke Johnson contributed reporting.

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