A gay couple sued the state’s motor vehicle agency for revoking drivers’ licenses they said they received by showing their marriage license from New York, the latest challenge to Florida’s ban on same-sex unions.
Daniel DeSousa and Scott Wall married in New York last year and legally changed their last name to Wall-DeSousa through the federal Social Security Administration.
Daniel changed his driver’s license in Brevard County, but when Scott tried there, he was told that his marriage certificate wasn’t a legal document in Florida. Scott later succeeded in changing his license in Orange County.
The couple said when they went public with their new drivers’ licenses in an interview with an Orlando television station, they received a letter from the DMV, stating their licenses had been cancelled.
The lawsuit filed last week in Orlando federal court demands that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles grant them licenses with their new names. The couple said the state agency is violating their rights to due process, equal protection and free speech.
The agency is “trying to suppress the expression that the plaintiffs, as a same-sex couple, are a family,” the lawsuit said.
An agency spokesman, John Lucas, said his office hadn’t received a copy of the lawsuit and so he couldn’t comment on it.
“It was brought to our attention that the license had been improperly issued,” Lucas said. “Under law, we were forced to recall it.”
Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled the Florida gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. But he stayed his decision while the state appealed it to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judges in four South Florida counties – Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – have ruled that the state’s 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment banning gay marriage violates gay residents’ right to equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.