Judge denies anti-gay group’s request to join gay marriage ban defence

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A judge in Miami has denied a request by the anti-gay legal organisation Liberty Counsel, to join the defence of the state of Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh Circuit Court, ruled that three organisations represented by the Counsel had no standing to be included in the defence of a same-sex marriage ban.

Miami-Dade Clerk of Court Harvey Ruvin is currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by six gay couples in the state who wish to be able to marry.

The state ban on same-sex marriage, approved by Florida voters back in 2008, violates the federal constitution, argue the couples.

The groups, which included the anti-gay Orlando attorney John Stemberger’s Florida Family Action, would not be directly affect by a ruling either way on the same-sex marriage ban.

“The validity of their own marriages will not be affected. The judgment in this case will not order them to do or refrain from doing anything. It will not have any legal impact upon them,” Zabel wrote in ruling on Tuesday.

The ruling was celebrated by LGBT rights activists and same-sex marriage advocates.

The main argument by the anti-gay groups had been that because they had been heavily involved in the passing of Amendment 2, banning same-sex marriage, they should have a right to defend it.

The couples were advised by Judge Zabel to file amicus, or friend of the court briefs, to argue the points at the hearing.

Seventh Day Adventist pastor, Mat Staver, of the Liberty Counsel last year claimed that, if the US Supreme Court ruledthat equal marriage for gay and lesbian couples is a constitutional right, it would be “the beginning of the end of America”.

The group vowed to go against any ruling in favour of same-sex marriage by the US Supreme Court, and has argued in favour of gay “cure” therapy for minors.

The US Supreme Court last June struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage as specifically between one man and one woman. The move opened up benefits for same-sex couples across America.