On November 5, 2014, the Quality of Life Target Issue Committee, which is chaired by Commissioner Nancy Miller and Commissioner Gil Ziffer, directed the consideration of the issue of whether the City of Tallahassee should file an amicus curiae, “friend of the court” brief, in the case of Mariama Monique Changamire Shaw v. Keiba Lynn Shaw (Shaw v. Shaw) be brought before the City Commission.
The appellant and appellee are same-sex partners who married in Massachusetts in 2010 and subsequently relocated to Florida. The couple separated in October 2013 and appellant filed for divorce in Florida in January 2014. The parties voluntarily entered into a collaborative marital settlement agreement in March of 2014, and appellant filed an amended petition for dissolution seeking to have the agreement incorporated into a final judgment of dissolution.
In March, a Hillsborough County judge, citing Florida law that expressly provides that same-sex marriages will not be recognized in Florida, ruled against the same-sex couple seeking a divorce, setting up an appeal of the state law that bars same-sex marriage. More here.
On August 27th, the Second District Court of Appeal asked the Supreme Court of Florida to rule on the case because of “great public importance.”
On September 5, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court declined to accept jurisdiction of the Shaw v. Shaw case pending before the Second District Court of Appeal as a question of great public importance and handed the case back to the Court of Appeal for further proceedings.
On September 10, 2014, the Second District Court of Appeal granted an order permitting the filing of an amicus curiae brief in support of recognizing the parties’ marriage and granting the appellant’s petition for divorce.
The following jurisdictions comprise the Florida governmental entities joining in the friend of the court brief: the City of Tampa, the City of St. Petersburg, the City of Orlando, the City of Miami Beach, the City of Wilton Manors, the Village of Biscayne Park, and Broward County. The amici curiae brief was filed on October 10, 2014.
As the basis for their interest, the friends of the court, stated the following as to their identity and interest:
Amici are a broad cross section of Florida county and city governments that have individually resolved that marriage discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is inimical to our citizens’ health and welfare, is detrimental to our efficiency and effectiveness as employers, and denies our taxpayers hard-earned tourism revenue at a time when we can least afford it.
The City agenda also noted the amici further elaborated on areas in which they have sought to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the community, including: prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations against lesbians and gay men within their jurisdictions; creating boards or committees to hear complaints of unlawful discrimination; establishing domestic partnership registries; providing benefits for domestic partners of their employees; and some requiring that their contractors provide equal benefits to domestic partner couples.
The issue will be addressed at the City Commission meeting to be held on November 12, 2014.
The issue here is not that they are taking a position and becoming a friend of the court. The issue, as far as the City commissioners are concerned is subjugation of private thoughts:
It is one more blatant reminder that the commissioners on their thrones truly believe they have the right to speak for the people of Tallahassee in every aspect of our lives. It is an attempt to undercut any position taken by any Tallahassee citizen on the issue in the future. Anyone who wishes to speak on the subject can be cut off with: “Your lord mayor and high commissioners have spoken for you already. You have nothing further to add.”
Stay out of this Commissioners! You already have more city issues on your agendas than you ever get around to dealing with. Really? We elected you to jump into this fray? REALLY?
Why does the City of Tallahasse need to get involved? Isn’t this a State issue, not a local government issue? To take a position means to piss someone off. If you take a position for the LGBT community, then you piss off the conservatives. If you take a position for the conservative crowd, you piss off the LGBT community. Why get involved?
That is the question…why does the COT need to get involved? There are two answers I come up with: 1) Because the two chairs (Miller and Ziffer) really believe this is a very important issue (ie: kissing up to the increasingly growing, and boundless, politically correct movement); 2) it makes them feel warm and fuzzy. Of course, both could be true. Watch for each Commissioner to make some ridiculous speech trying to avoid the wrath of the LGBT community.
Before the City of Tallahassee steps into this arena, perhaps a call to Annise Parker, the Mayor of Houston, TX would be a good idea.