A father of 4 urges Florida attorney general to stop defending marriage discrimination

Editors' Note: This post is a guest column by Juan Luque, who lives with his partner, Patrick Duffy outside of Tampa, FL. Juan shares his life with his family at 2 Dads + 4 Kids, and his family have shared their story with Freedom to Marry before. Here, Juan addresses Pam Bondi, the Attorney General of Florida, in response to a lawsuit filed in Florida on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry.

Dear Pam Bondi, Attorney General of Florida:

In just over a month, my family will celebrate the first birthday of three of our children - Liam, Lilly, and Leo, triplets born on April 1, 2013 in St Petersburg, FL.

My life has seen extraordinary change in the past year. My family has doubled in size, expanding from me, my amazing partner Patrick and our son Lorenzo to include the triplets. I have grown more and more comfortable in my role as a stay-at-home father. We are making a home in our new, larger house, just outside of Tampa, to accommodate for our unexpected growth in family size.

Our life together is the bright life of two dads working our hardest to provide for our four amazing children. We prepare healthy meals for our kids. We take them to school. We have cookouts with our family members on the weekend. We go shopping.

And we are happy - we are so, so happy.

Patrick and I have built a wonderful life in Florida, and we have learned such amazing moral and spiritual lessons here in the Sunshine State. And yet, our state has not made it easy for us to build our lives here: Despite our love and commitment, Patrick and I do not have the freedom to marry in Florida. Because of laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying in our state, Patrick cannot cover me on his health insurance as I take care of the kids full time; even our domestic partnership - which we entered into in the City of Tampa in 2012, the only legal family status available to us - means nothing in our home now that we've moved out of the city limits.

"Patrick and I have built a wonderful life in Florida - and yet, our state has not made it easy for us to build our lives here."

We love our state, and we refuse to move to another state in order to get married. We know that even with a marriage license from another state, as soon as we return to our home, Florida will act as though the license is invisible. 

We love that we have built our home here - but we need more in order to fully dignify our lives, our family, and our place in the state. We need to become a whole part of society. We need to make sure our children - future leaders of this state and this country - are protected and respected by the law. We need to make Florida a better, safer place to live - and we hope you'll stand with us as we work together for a better future. We need the freedom to marry in Florida. 

For us, marriage is not a romantic idea - it's a necessity: We need the security that marriage provides. We need the protections to ensure that we can raise our family safely and be treated equally. We need to know that we are respected by our government and our community - the government that we pay taxes into, the community that we love.

We live in an incredible time, Attorney General Bondi - and we have great hope for a future where families like mine are fully respected by the law. You have the opportunity to help make our dreams a reality - and we hope you take advantage of this chance to stand on the right side of history.

Elected officials around the country have taken the time this year to reflect on why marriage matters for same-sex couples - and increasingly, they are arriving at the conclusion that the freedom to marry for same-sex couples hurts no one. They are seeing that being able to marry helps these same-sex couples and their families in myriad ways, some tangible - like the security of being respected as a family come tax season - and some intangible - like having the reassurance that, under the law, they are entitled to the same respect and dignity as their neighbors. From Pennsylvania to Virginia to Nevada, attorneys general have stopped defending anti-marriage laws, and it's because they have come to a simple conclusion: These laws are truly indefensible.

"From PA to VA to NV, attorneys general have stopped defending anti-marriage laws, and it's because they have come to a simple conclusion: These laws are truly indefensible."

I know that this letter is only the story of one family in the great state of Florida - but it represents thousands of other families like mine who are living in a state where we are told again and again that we are not welcome. By denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples and defending anti-marriage laws, you are hurting our families.

Our family's first year with Liam, Lily, and Leo has been a remarkable and blessed time. Now, we hope that in the second year of their lives, our dreams of marrying in Florida and living equally under the law come true. 

Thank you,

Juan Luque • Valrico, Florida

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