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Orange County Board Backs Same-sex Marriage


The Orange County Board of Commissioners wants the courts to overturn Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. The board voted Tuesday to sign an amicus brief making that request.

The commissioners don’t have the authority to enable same-sex marriage – but they don’t need it for an amicus brief. Such documents let outside parties chime in on court cases, and the board’s 5-2 vote means it will join filings in support of gay marriage.

Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell urged board approval, saying, "I do realize that Orange County here today is not declaring or ruling on that. I think it’s just us voting shows a symbol that we are in support of the citizens of Orange County, that we are in support of the effort."

One Opponent's View

During the meeting, members of the public largely backed that position. Charles Norris of Ocoee opposed it. "The universal teachings of the church and the universal beliefs of mankind have always been that marriage is between of a man and a woman for a purpose of bringing up children," he said.

Religious Support for Gay Marriage

Reverend Kathy Schmitz of First Unitarian Church of Orlando said her congregation embraces same-sex marriage, but she has to leave the state to perform ceremonies. "I am here to urge you to sign on to the amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage," she told the board. "I am here as a religious voice because I believe that what we find in common across religions in compassion and care."

In the Courts

The vote comes a day after Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the state Supreme Court to rule on the matter. A recent U.S. high court move opens the door for same-sex marriage in other states – but leaves Florida in limbo.

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