The fight in the courts to win marriage equality across the US ratcheted up Thursday (13 March) with lawsuits filed in Arizona, Florida and Indiana.
The lawsuits, two filed by Lambda Legal and one filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, join the more than 50 currently working their way through the legal system in various states.
In Arizona, a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven couples and the surviving spouses of two additional couples challenging the state’s gay marriage ban.
The lead plaintiffs in the Arizona case are Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey (pictured) who have been together for 55 years.
‘We’re a committed, loving family, have raised two amazing girls together, have seen each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health,’ Majors said in a statement. ‘After five decades together, we want to celebrate and affirm our deep love for each other as other couples do, before our friends and family, through marriage.’
Majors is 75, and Bailey is 74.
‘We’re also getting up there in years,’ Majors points out. ‘I want to know that, should anything happen to me, there would be no question about Karen being allowed to be with me at the hospital, and vice versa. If we were married, there would be no question and we both would feel more secure.’
Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jennifer C. Pizer says overturning the Arizona ban is even more crucial for same-sex couples because Arizona does not officer civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Lambda Legal’s other new case is a federal lawsuit filed in Indiana on behalf of three same-sex couples who want to get married.
Lead plaintiff Rae Baskin, who has been with her partner, Esther Fuller, for 24 years says: ‘We just want what everyone else has in Indiana – a real, honest and legal marriage. We are a family.’
The Florida lawsuit, filed in federal court by the ACLU of Florida, is on behalf of eight same-sex couples who live there but got married in other states.
They are suing to have their marriage recognized in Florida.
ACLU of Florida attorney Daniel Tilley says each couple has a story of how the state’s marriage ban has impacted their lives including Palm Beach Gardens firefighter Sloan Grimsley.
Grimsley is worried that if something were to happen to Sloan in the line of duty, her wife, Joyce Albu, would not receive the support the state offers to spouses of first responders in heterosexual marriages.
‘It’s time for Florida to stop the harmful practice of treating committed couples as if they are strangers,’ Tilley stated.