Not content simply to ban gay marriage, conservative Florida Attorney General and champion long-starer Pam Bondi filed a brief this week begging a judge not to grant a divorce to a lesbian whose civil-union partner left her alone years ago.
Four years ago, according to Brassner, Lade cheated on her and disappeared soon afterward. Brassner, who still does not know where Lade is, has now partnered with someone else and would like to marry some day. However, Florida law forbids recognizing the Vermont civil union, and therefore won't permit a divorce. And Vermont won't dissolve the union without a signed affidavit from the missing Lade.
Brassner filed for a divorce in Florida anyway, and her request was granted in August by Judge Dale Cohen. In issuing his ruling, Cohen became the third of five state judges this year who have declared Florida's 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional.
But there was a problem: Brassner didn't notify Attorney General Bondi's office that she was filing for divorce—a legal requirement—and so Cohen has reversed his August decision and is taking another look at the case. That's given Bondi a chance to make some truly dumb arguments as to why, having fought against same-sex couples' rights to marry, she now wants to make sure Brassner is locked into her civil union for life:
"The petitioner also seeks a declaration regarding the Court's ability to dissolve same-sex marriages, even though the relationship at issue here is a Vermont civil union — not a same-sex marriage. No Florida appellate court has held that a civil union is equivalent to marriage for purposes of Florida's dissolution of marriage laws... this Court 'lacks jurisdiction to render declaratory relief.'"
In other words, civil unions—a mealy-mouthed alternative once offered up by conservatives like Bondi as a separate-but-equal alternative to marriage for gays and lesbians—aren't equal to marriage, and so they can't be dissolved by a state that only recognizes marriage. In order to save marriage from gays, the twice-divorced Bondi will have to keep this one gay woman gay-married, you see.
Brassner's divorce case will continue next week. Bondi—pictured above with Rick Scott, the Florida governor who recently admitted to rescheduling a prisoner's execution so Bondi could hold a political fundraiser the same day—is expected to cruise to reelection a week after that.
[Photo credit: AP Images]