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Lodi couple set out to sea in Denmark, finished cruise with sites of N.Y. architecture

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida now has its first legal challenge to Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Two Brevard County men, Daniel Wall-DeSousa, 40, and Scott Wall-DeSousa, 37, filed suit this week in Orlando federal court, asking a judge to force the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to recognize their marriage.

They got married in New York City Dec. 6 and a few days later changed their names through the Social Security Administration, each adding the last name of the other, according to the suit.

They both also got new Florida drivers licenses, showing their new last names, but the department then canceled them.

“Same sex marriage certificates are not recognized as valid in Florida,” the department wrote in a form letter sent to each man. “Such a certificate from another state is not considered as a legal basis for a name change on a Florida driver license.”

The men on Tuesday filed suit against the department, its executive director Terry L. Rhodes, Gov. Rick Scott and a manager in the Brevard County’s tax collector’s office, where drivers license applications are processed, accusing them of violating their constitutional rights and asking U.S. Magistrate David A. Baker to order Florida to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

They also asked the magistrate to order the department to give them new drivers licenses and to pay unspecified damages — plus punitive damages — and their legal costs.

“I find it slightly offensive,” said Scott Wall-DeSousa, “that this state will not honor a little document from another state. If this were a lien or a judgment or any other legal document, not only would this state accept it, but it would also enforce it.”

Their suit is the first known challenge to Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage to be filed in a Central Florida court.

Four Florida judges — one each in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — and a federal judge in Tallahassee have all overturned Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage since July 17, but each has then halted implementation to give Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi time to file challenges, and she has.

Bondi has argued that it’s her duty to uphold Florida’s constitution and an amendment, approved by 62 percent of the vote in 2008, that bans gay marriage.

Her press secretary, Whitney Ray, was not available Friday. Brevard Tax Collector Lisa Cullen also could not be reached.

The new suit, if successful, would not allow same-sex couples in Florida to get married here, but it would force the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

On Tuesday, Dan Wall-DeSousa refused to reapply for a drivers license using his former name. Instead, he followed the department’s alternative instruction: He cut his license in half, mailed it back to the department’s Tallahassee office and now cannot drive.

He said he plans to walk or ride the bus.

“My driving privileges have been canceled indefinitely,” he said. “I made a decision I would rather give up my driving privileges than my identity.”

Scott Wall-DeSousa, however, reapplied for a license using his old name — Scott Wall — and was given one.


The lawyer who filed their suit, William J. Sheppard of Jacksonville, is one of several who convinced U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee to declare Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Aug. 21.

The couple were in the news last month on another, related matter. Daniel Wall-DeSousa, a high school science teacher, asked the Brevard County School Board to extend anti-discrimination protection of gays. It has not responded.

The district earlier this year rejected his request that it recognize his marriage so that he could get health insurance benefits for Scott Wall-DeSousa, who is a real estate agent.

The couple live in Palm Bay. They have been together since 2005, according to the suit.


©2014 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC


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