The Dating and Relationship Blog

Gimme sugar: Sugar baby site no worse than OkCupid

Call it a millennial thing: Online dating is now, more or less, an acceptable way to meet someone. For college students, it makes sense. Among going to classes, working part-time jobs, balancing extracurriculars and browsing the slim pickings of the Gainesville-nightlife scene, it’s hard to find a mate. Online dating provides an intuitive solution, complete with matrices that calculate who your best matches are based on personality. Plus there’s the added convenience of being able to browse dating options in the comfort of your own home — preferably in a pair of sweatpants.

A new kind of dating website, Seeking Arrangements, offers a unique twist to the dating equation. Seeking Arrangements caters to sugar daddies and sugar babies. In layman’s terms, Seeking Arrangements users seek “mutually beneficial” arrangements that involve financial support in exchange for “companionship.” Companionship, of course, is open to interpretation.

On Tuesday, we reported that UF ranked No. 21 on a list of fastest-growing sugar baby universities, calculated by the number of Seeking Arrangements sign-ups. The news is a bit surprising. Unlike South or Central Florida, Gainesville isn’t exactly crawling with wealthy older men. But numbers don’t lie, and UF students have spoken: They’re ready to cash in on their youthful good looks, sharp wit and stunning intellect.

Ever since its birth, Seeking Arrangements has come under fire for enabling what many call “Internet prostitution.” Of course, not all transactions made between Seeking Arrangements users are innocent, and it’s impossible to gauge how many women are trading sex for money.

But is it really any worse than the myriad of dating websites that already exist? As any OkCupid user can tell you, the number of creepy messages requesting — and, more often, begging for or demanding — no-strings-attached sex are staggering. The worst kind of people, it seems, flock to dating websites. Just check out the “Creepy White Guys” Tumblr, a blog where Asian women submit messages they’ve received on OkCupid from white men seeking a “submissive,” “feminine” Asian woman.

The Internet has brought us many great things: the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, Etsy and infinite cat videos. It also, for better or for worse, opened a new world of sexual transactions. People make money by performing on webcams. The Internet porn industry is booming, and a no-strings-attached hookup is as easy as creating a Grindr or Tinder profile. And as long as there is OkCupid and Craigslist, there will be quick sexual transactions.

However, many sugar babies have published written accounts of their nonsexual arrangements, so such is possible.

Before you condemn a student for using Seeking Arrangements to pay for college, ask yourself: Would you rather receive message after nasty message on OkCupid while working a lame part-time job at Jamba Juice, or would you rather be paid for your time and personality?

A version of this editorial ran on page 6 on 1/22/2014 under the headline "Gimme sugar: Sugar baby site no worse than OkCupid"

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Golf notebook: Couples to receive Gold Tee Award – Yahoo Sports

--Fred Couples will receive the Gold Tee Award, one of the sport's most prestigious honors, from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at its 63rd National Awards Dinner on June 23 in Tarrytown, N.Y. The Gold Tee is ...

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Six same-sex couples sue for right to marry in Fla. – MiamiHerald.com

Six same-sex couples on Tuesday sued in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for the right to marry in Florida, once again thrusting the Sunshine State into the national gay-rights spotlight.

“We are proud to stand here on this historic day,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, the state’s leading gay-rights group. “We are proud to stand here with these brave couples who have stepped up to protect their families and challenge the law in our state. For everyone who stands here today, there are thousands whose families are denied the dignity and protections that marriage provides.

“We stand here for those who have applied for marriage licenses and face the humiliation of being denied. We stand here for the children of couples who want to know why their parents aren’t permitted to get married the way their classmates’ parents are.”

The South Florida couples suing to marry are Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier; Todd and Jeff Delmay; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber; and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz. Equality Florida Institute is also a plaintiff.

“We stand before you today for one simple reason,” said Pareto, of Coconut Grove, alongside her partner, Arguello, at the LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach. “We want to marry each other here in our state, but we can’t because the freedom to marry isn’t available to us. Carla and I share a beautiful life together. We have an amazing son together. We’ve built a successful business together. We share our finances together. We go to church together. We serve our community together. Our respective families have fully integrated. But in the eyes of the law, we are legal strangers.”

The 12 plaintiffs are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz, attorney Mary B. Meeks and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

According to the 21-page filing, which names Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin as defendant, the plaintiffs “allege that Florida’s categorical exclusion of all same-sex couples from marriage deny same-sex couples, including the plaintiff couples, and their families the fundamental rights, dignity, and equality guaranteed to all persons by the United States Constitution.”

Florida has never granted same-sex couples the right to marry. In 2008, almost 62 percent of voters amended the state Constitution to ban gay marriage, along with recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and domestic partnerships.

"Sixty-two percent of Floridians have decisively spoken on this issue. Gay activists cannot win in the marketplace, so they have resorted to trying to find renegade courts who have little respect for the rule of law to create social change that would never happen through the people or their elected representatives,” said John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council, which led the movement in 2008 to pass Florida’s anti-gay marriage Amendment 2.

In a news release Tuesday, Stemberger said the lawsuit “is nothing more than a publicity stunt.”

“Filed in Miami, it represents ‘forum shopping’ in the most liberal legal venue in the state,” he said. “However, we are confident that Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi will provide a vigorous defense of Florida's long held law and in doing so will expose the radical views and overreaching legal positions set forth in today's lawsuit.”

Bondi’s office said Tuesday it had not yet seen the lawsuit, which arrives in an election year.

Gov. Rick Scott has indicated he supports the gay-marriage ban. Democratic challenger and former state Sen. Nan Rich has always supported gay marriage.

And Democrat Charlie Crist — who as the Republican governor in 2008 supported the ban — now sides with Rich and wants the constitutional amendment repealed.

"No one would want to be told they can’t marry the person they love. It’s an issue of fairness and I’m proud to support it," Crist said in a statement issued after the suit was announced.

Gay activists acknowledge they suffered a major setback in 2008, but they believe public opinion is changing. A March 2013 survey by Public Policy Polling found 75 percent of Florida voters favor allowing gay people either to marry (38 percent) or to have civil unions (37 percent).

“What’s happened over that time period is a real awakening by most people in Florida to the humanity of lesbian and gay people and their families,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a San Francisco-based legal group helping assist the South Florida plaintiffs.

“Those families have been so much more visible and present, not just in the news but in people’s everyday lives,” he said. “As people have gotten to know these couples and their children, the fear factor has diminished greatly. There’s just been in our whole country, including Florida, a kind of collective realization that these really are families pretty much like other families and they need the same kinds of protections.”

Liberal and LGBT activists have also been buoyed by recent court decisions supporting same-sex couples’ right to marry.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the 1993 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which banned the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. Justices did not rule on DOMA’s Section 2, which allows states not to recognize legal marriages performed elsewhere. Also, federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma have ruled since December that same-sex couples could marry.

“That really changes the landscape enormously and lays a very strong foundation for courts and other places to draw upon,” Minter said.

Schwartz, a Miami Beach family attorney and estate planner, said she expects the Florida lawsuit to take years to wind its way through the court system.

“The county has 30 days to respond to us. They could file a motion to dismiss, but we expect they’ll answer the complaint. And we’re off to the races,” she said. “It’s a lawsuit like any other, potentially with evidence and hearings, and we hope that the judge will rule favorably. We expect that whoever loses will probably appeal.”

Minter has long-time experience in Florida, where NCLR helped fight the state’s 33-year ban against gays adopting, which ended in 2010.

“Florida has often been on the cutting edge for civil rights issues and protections for the south, culturally and politically. An influential state,” he said. “What happens in Florida really matters, not only for the folks here, but across the whole country.”

More than 1,000 couples volunteered to be part of the lawsuit. Six were chosen.

“We wanted folks who could just be representative of the community and who were in different life situations,” Minter said. “One of our couples is dealing with aging issues. We wanted to show couples raising children. One of our couples has grandchildren. They work in all different fields. They’re culturally diverse.”

Diaz and Johnston of Miami said they’ have known each other four years, began dating a year ago, and decided to marry in December.

“Once we got engaged, we were thinking about where to get married and what our next step would be. Both of us were really disappointed that we couldn’t get married here, since we were born and raised here and we have a lot of ties to the community,” said Diaz, younger brother of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz. “This goes to the very heart of what Cubans identify with, which is the removal of rights or the ostracizing of any particular group. In that respect, they can certainly identify with our issue, regardless of what their stance is on us being a man and man together.”

The former Jeff Delsol and Todd May already live as if they are married. Before their son Blake was born four years ago, they legally changed their surnames to a blend of both: Delmay.

“When we found out we were going to be dads, immediately we decided to change our names so we could have the same name, so we could be as married as we could be,” Jeff said.

The Aleniers, of Hollywood, have been together eight years and are raising a son. They want to marry here and not have to travel to Washington, D.C., New York, California or one of the other 15 states where gay marriage is legal.

“Florida is our home, and we have been waiting to get married. We don’t want to go to another state,” Melanie said. “When we heard there might be an opportunity coming up to help change things in Florida and be married in Florida and be a part of making that change, we were all over it.”

Vanessa said she and Melanie are proud to represent gay and lesbian couples in Florida. “Being public is a good thing,” she said. “It’s a good thing for all of us to be public about it and be very open as to who we are, to change the hearts and minds of people around us, and people who love us.”

Greene grew up in Miami Beach and was in her early 20s during the 1977 Anita Bryant era, when 70 percent of voters repealed the county’s newly passed gay-rights ordinance. South Florida became a focal point for gay rights, and it took 21 years for Miami-Dade County to restore the ordinance.

“It was a rather scary time for me,” said Greene, who has been partnered with Faerber for decades.

“For the past 25 years, we had to jump through hoops to accomplish what a married couple already had at their disposal just by saying ‘I do.’ You’re talking about health surrogacy, you’re talking about responsibilities of raising your daughter, going into the public school system, being an advocate for her. We’ve been advocates for our grandchildren,” said Greene, of Plantation. “We’ve had to be advocates for them. It’s really awkward when you’re sitting in the room and someone is saying, ‘OK, you’re Gina’s grandmother, now who are you?’ If we were married, we wouldn’t have to be jumping through these extra hoops.”

Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo contributed to this report.

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‘Teen Wolf’s’ Dylan O’Brien talks about Scott and Stiles’ friendship

All the strongest relationships are tested, and Teen Wolf‘s Scott and Stiles are no different. Find out what Dylan O’Brien has to say about their friendship in season 3.

Dylan O’Brien (Stiles) sat down with Collider to talk about Teen Wolf and The Maze Runner, the latter of which you can read about in our previous article.

Of particular note from the part of the interview concerning Teen Wolf is when O’Brien is asked if Agent McCall and Sheriff Stilinski’s tension will cause a rift between the two best friends.

“No,” O’Brien is quick to say. “It’s always cool between them. Nothing can damage that. We don’t even think about toying with that, even for a storyline. It’s just so wrong for the characters and for the show.”

Fans will certainly be glad to hear that! One of the best and strongest relationships on Teen Wolf is between these two characters, and seeing them fight would certainly break a lot of hearts. And it sounds as if O’Brien agrees! “They’re such brothers,” he continues. “They always have each other’s back. It doesn’t f****** matter what’s happening. They can never lose that.”

However, we have heard there will be some tension between the two this season, though that was also expected in the previous half of season 3, and not much came of it. “I don’t think Scott and Stiles can ever truly be in a fight,” O’Brien explains. “In Season 1, we fought for two minutes. There was one scene where I was mad at him, and then I was just back in it because I want to know what’s going on.”

That’s great to know, especially since there seems to be a lot going on this season and a lot of pressure on everyone’s shoulders. We have to wonder, though, if the tension between Isaac and Stiles will come to a head, and if it does, whose side (if any) will Scott choose?

The interview continues with more of O’Brien’s thoughts on where his character will be heading this season, as well as his relationship with his dad. Make sure to read the rest of it!

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Sparks Grove Cited in New Report on Marketer/Agency Relationships

ATLANTA, Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report released today by Forrester Research, Inc. titled "Agency Partnerships Speed the Innovation Journey" features strategic and creative firm Sparks Grove.  The report addresses how "smart marketers maximize agency relationships to create breakthrough customer experiences and business growth," in a time of evolving customer behavior. The full report can be found here.

According to the report, "companies look for innovative marketing approaches when they feel — or know from the numbers — that they are falling behind." To speed the innovation process, many companies engage with outside agencies; and, when successful, an agency and marketer partnership can lead to transformative marketing innovations. The report states that "innovation is not built on short-term execution and immediate sales results. Agencies and marketers have both stated that a new model of trust and openness is required." The report notes that marketers must:

  • Carve out dedicated budget to focus effort
  • Assign decision makers and hold them accountable
  • Keep agencies informed as part of the team
  • Prepare for radical change

Minsoo Pak, Chief Creative Officer at Sparks Grove, a division of global consultancy North Highland, cited in the study, states that "marketers need to understand that byproducts of innovation can be scary." He goes on to note that "marketers must have management buy-in for radical change resulting from the new innovations." If organizations are not truly ready for change, the relationship with an innovation agency will hit a wall of inertia from the marketing organization.

For agencies, the report states that they "must invest in innovation resources to prove their forward-thinking chops," and offers a few examples of areas where agencies have invested with impact, including the promotion of prolific partnering to accelerate innovations and co-investing with clients for faster pilot launches. The report also mentions the use of "a multidisciplinary organization model to scale innovations faster." It notes that organizations that use this model "can move rapidly from ideation and creation phases to full-blown launch and operational phases with in-house business process, systems integration, and back-office engineering talent."

"At Sparks Grove, we were created to bring the value and benefit of this flexibility to our clients," said Pak. "Our unique business model, which blends powerful creative thinking with core strategic consulting, allows us to deliver leading edge solutions that push innovation further and much more quickly for our clients."

To access the full study, please click here.

About Sparks Grove
Sparks Grove is a strategy and creative firm that provides marketing, communication, digital and design services. Our uncommon union of strategy and creative solves complex business problems for many of the world's leading brands.  A division of global consulting firm, North Highland, Sparks Grove delivers clients fresh ideas that invigorate their brands and resolve pressing business challenges.

For more information, please visit our website at sparksgrove.com or follow us on Twitter @sparksgrove or facebook.com/sparksgrove.

About North Highland
North Highland is a global consulting firm with a proven record of enabling great returns on our clients' investment. Our high-caliber consultants offer deep experience and expertise across many diverse industries and service areas.

We specialize in solving tough business challenges, being easy to work with, and nurturing long-standing relationships with the most recognizable brands in the world. Ask any of our clients, and they'll tell you. For more information, visit www.northhighland.com and follow us at @NHighlandGlobal.

North Highland is a proud member of the Cordence Worldwide global management consulting partnership. Learn more at http://cordenceworldwide.com/

Media Contact: RebeccaLynn Schroeder
Phone: 404.460.1495
E-mail: RebeccaLynn.Schroeder@edelman.com

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Same-sex couples challenge Florida ban on gay marriage – Christian Science Monitor

Same-sex couples claim that the Florida ban on gay marriage is a 'government-imposed stigma' that fosters 'private bias and discrimination.' Same-sex marriage is banned in 30 states.

Temp Headline Image
Vanessa Alenier (l.) smiles at her partner Melanie Alenier during an interview in Miami Beach, Fla., Jan. 21. Six gay couples, including the Aleniers, filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, the latest in a series of cases across the country that contend such prohibitions are unconstitutional and effectively relegate gay partners to second-class status.
(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

By Warren RicheyStaff writer / January 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm EST

WASHINGTON

Six same-sex couples in Florida have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on gay marriage on grounds that it violates fundamental guarantees of the US Constitution, including a right to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

The suit, filed in state court in Miami on Tuesday, comes after federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma recently declared same-sex marriage bans in those states unconstitutional. Both decisions are being appealed.

The 21-page complaint seeks to overturn two Florida laws, passed in 1977 and 1997, limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. It also seeks to invalidate a 2008 amendment to the Florida constitution defining marriage as “the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

“These laws brand same-sex couples and their children as second-class citizens through government-imposed stigma and foster private bias and discrimination,” the complaint says in part.

It does so by “instructing all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their relationships and families are less worthy than others,” the suit says.

The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in Florida reflects “moral disapproval and animus toward same-sex couples,” and only serves to “disparage and demean same-sex couples and their children,” the complaint says.

The Florida suit is the latest in a string of lawsuits filed nationwide challenging state statutes and state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Currently 17 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages. Thirty states have banned the practice.

In addition to litigating the issue at the state level, gay rights activists are also seeking to get same-sex marriage back before the US Supreme Court for a definitive ruling that they hope will strike down such bans nationwide.

Last June, in a landmark decision, the high court struck down a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The majority justices said the federal government exceeded its authority by enforcing a federal law that barred same-sex couples from receiving the same federal benefits available to heterosexual married couples.

The Supreme Court said that same-sex couples who are legally married under the law in their home state are entitled to receive the same federal benefits available to opposite-sex couples.

What the high court did not do in its decision is announce whether states that decide not to recognize same-sex marriages may continue to do so without violating the US Constitution. The high court also left open the question of whether the Constitution recognizes and protects a fundamental right to marry regardless of gender.

The Florida lawsuit is asking a state judge to rule that the Florida laws and constitutional ban violate the US Constitution. Lawyers for the couples want the state judge to impose a permanent injunction barring state officials – including clerks who issue marriage licenses – from upholding the ban on same-sex marriages.

The six couples in the Florida suit all reside in south Florida and all six tried to obtain marriage licenses last Friday, Jan. 17.

The defendant in the case is Harvey Ruvin, the clerk of the courts in Miami-Dade County. Officials in Mr. Ruvin’s office followed the existing state laws and declined to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

It is that action that forms the basis for the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the couples compare the ban on same-sex marriage to laws that barred people of different races from marrying.

“Until 1967, the Constitution and laws of Florida barred marriages between white and black persons,” the suit says. That year, the US Supreme Court invalidated a Virginia law and declared a fundamental right to marry regardless of race.

Now the question is whether the same legal analysis will apply to same-sex marriages.

Some opponents of gay marriage argue that societal changes are happening too quickly and that the institution of marriage will be undermined.

Lawyers for the Florida couples reject such concerns. “History has taught that the legitimacy and vitality of marriage do not depend on upholding discriminatory marriage laws,” the suit says.

“On the contrary, eliminating these remaining unconstitutional barriers to marriage further enhances the institution and society,” the lawyers wrote.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Catherina Pareto, who owns and operates a financial planning firm. She and her partner, Karla Arguello, have been in a committed relationship for 14 years and want to make it permanent.

Ms. Arguello is a stay-at-home mom caring for their adopted 15-month-old son.

“Florida is our home, it is where we are raising our child, and where we want to get married,” Ms. Pareto said in a statement.

“Karla and I wish for our family the same things that other families want,” she said. “We want to build our lives together, provide a safe and caring home for our child, and share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage.”

The case is Pareto v. Ruvin.

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Gay Couples Sue Their States for Unconstitutional Marriage Bans – RYOT

As of 2014, there are still 33 states in America with same-sex marriage bans, with many states approving and repealing their acceptance of such marriage. The confusion has resulted in couples being acknowledged as married in their state one day, and not the next.

Many gay and lesbian couples are tired of being treated as “second-class status,” and are taking their cases to court.

Starting with two couples in Oklahoma last year, now as many as ten couples in both Florida and Utah are choosing to challenge their states in court for prohibiting marriage.

Florida

Six gay couples filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, the latest in a series of cases across the country that contend such prohibitions are unconstitutional and effectively relegate gay partners to second-class status.

The lawsuit was filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of the couples by Equality Florida Institute Inc., a civil rights organization that works for fairness for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The lawsuit claims Florida’s gay marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

The couples, many of whom have children and have been together for years, said they see no reason to be forced to move to a state that permits same-sex marriage when they have built lives in Florida.

The law will be defended in court by the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican. Officials there did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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AP File Photo: When the FEC voted unanimously to apply federal campaign finance regulations equally.

Utah

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state of Utah over the issue of gay marriage, saying the official decision to stop granting benefits for newly married same-sex couples has created wrenching uncertainty.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday says the state has put hundreds of gay and lesbian couples in legal limbo and prevented them from getting key protections for themselves and their children.

The civil rights advocacy group has a news conference scheduled Tuesday to discuss the lawsuit filed on behalf of four gay and lesbian couples.

The state made clear it was not ordering agencies to void the marriages, saying instead that validity of the marriages will ultimately be decided by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is weighing an appeal from the state.

It could take more than a year for the courts to rule on Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, especially if it moves to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ACLU believes the federal government has taken the correct stance on the new marriages. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder came out days after Herbert’s decree and said the federal government will honor the gay marriages and grant benefits. That means that same-sex couples who were married in Utah can file federal taxes jointly, get Social Security benefits for spouses and request legal immigration status for partners, among other benefits.

RYOT NOTE: The ACLU considers themselves our nation’s guardian of liberty. They not only fight for the rights of same-sex couples across the country, they also defend the rights of people of color, women, prisoners and people with disabilities. They believe if the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled. Click the Action Box above this story to learn more, donate and Become the NEws!

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Florida Gay Marriage Ban Challenged by Six Couples in Suit – Bloomberg

Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and its enforcement should be permanently blocked, six Miami-area gay couples said in state court complaint.

Named as a defendant in the case is Harvey Ruvin, clerk of the courts of Miami-Dade County, Florida, whose office is responsible for issuing marriage licenses to area residents. A copy of the complaint was provided by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The filing couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records.

Each of the suing couples claim Ruvin’s office on Jan. 17 denied their request for a marriage license because they were of the same gender.

“When Florida withholds a marriage license from a same-sex couple, Florida circumscribes individuals’ basic life choices, classifies persons in a manner that denies them the public recognition and myriad benefits of marriage,” and keeps them from making a legally binding commitment, the couples said in the complaint.

Gay marriage is legal in 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Officials in two other states, Utah and Oklahoma, are seeking appellate reversal of federal court rulings striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.

Florida’s prohibition, according to the complaint, is codified in two statutes and the state’s constitution, which defines marriage as “the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife,” adding, “no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

Miami-Dade County Attorney R.A. Cuevas didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Pareto v. Ruvin, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County, Florida (Miami).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in federal court in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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Hormone behind monogamous relationships

Researchers have found that oxytocin hormone, which is secreted in the brain and is sometimes referred to as the 'bonding hormone', helps in creating and maintaining monogamy in relationships.Scientists at the Bonn University Medical Center explained t...

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Utah gay couples not giving up marriages without a fight – MSNBC

JoNell Evans’ mother quietly motioned for Evans’ partner, Stacia Ireland, to sit next to her on the couch. Evans’ mother could barely speak, but she said something that meant the world to both of them.

“JoNell is happy, I’m happy, and you are my daughters,” she said.

Evans’ mother died a week later. But if she had come to accept Evans’ and Ireland’s marriage, then someday maybe Utah, the most conservative state in the union, will too.

“To see that kind of transformation in our own family gave us hope that it’ll happen in our society as well,” Evans says.

Evans and Ireland are one of the approximately 1,300 couples who got marriage licenses in Utah in the weeks following a federal court ruling on Dec. 20 striking down the state’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage. Evans went down to the crowded Salt Lake County courthouse immediately after the ruling to get a marriage license. Weeks later, on Jan. 6, the Supreme Court stayed the ruling, on Utah’s request. The state called marriages like Evans and Ireland’s an “affront to the sovereignty of the state” even as it argued couples like them would be “irreparably harmed in their dignitary and financial interests” if their marriages were retroactively annulled.

Then the state’s Republican leadership announced that Utah wouldn’t be recognizing any of them–unless forced to by the courts. After years of waiting for the state to recognize their partnership, Evans and Ireland were suddenly back where they started.

“It was for us and every couple we knew, a day of sadness and mourning,” says Evans. “I didn’t think it was possible for the governor to invalidate our legal marriage.”

Evans and Ireland aren’t letting Utah take their marriage without a fight. They’re one of four couples who have joined with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah to sue the state to compel recognition of their marriages, performed in the brief window of time that such unions were legal in the state. The lawsuit argues that when those couples were married, they were vested with rights protected by the due process clauses of both the state and U.S. constitutions.

“These couples were legally married under Utah law and their unions must be treated the same as any other Utah marriage,” John Mejia, legal director of the Utah ACLU, said in a statement. “Regardless of what ultimately happens in the federal challenge to Utah’s marriage ban, the marriages that already occurred are valid and must be recognized now.”

The circumstances of Utah’s married same-sex couples are rare, so there’s little legal guidance on how to proceed. “There’s a lot of force to the plaintiffs’ argument, but it’s really an unresolved question,” says Samuel Bagenstos, a law professor at the University of Michigan.

Although the two had a commitment ceremony in 2007, in the eyes of the state, that didn’t matter. When Ireland was able to reach the clerk’s office, it was a joyful madhouse, teeming with couples seeking marriage licenses. Ireland had to wade through the crowd to get to Evans, who had gotten on line hours earlier to get the necessary forms. Salt Lake City’s Democratic mayor, Ralph Becker, was marrying couples on the spot. Every few minutes, cheers would come from the crowd as another couple was married. Eventually, it was Evans and Ireland’s turn.

“It was almost dreamlike,” Ireland said. “It was just an amazing, amazing day.”

Legal recognition means more than just symbolic acceptance. Twice in recent years, Ireland has had to go to the hospital for heart problems. The first time, in 2010, before they even left for the hospital, Evans had to scramble to collect the pile of legal documents they’d accumulated to approximate the privileges of legal marriage.

“I had to have a presence of mind to have those legal documents in order to make sure I wasn’t being excluded from being by her side,” Evans recalled. Even still, the hospital officials didn’t treat Evans like Ireland’s spouse, refusing to allow her to sign documents for Ireland and keeping her at arm’s length. But when they had to rush to the hospital again last December–just after they had gotten married–everything had changed. Medical staff allowed Evans to participate in treatment discussions and came to her to sign paperwork.

“It was a startling difference,” Evans said. “Once we said that I was Stacia’s wife, there was no hesitation, no questions.”

That transformation is one they believe is happening in Utah at large. After years of seeing them together, Evans’ family, who first came to Utah as Mormon pioneers, has gradually begun to accept their partnership.

“Stacia came, and was living here, and was their neighbor, and they saw her everyday, and they saw her as a good person and not a threat to them,” Evans said. “I think it’s been a matter of us, just by the way we live, educating them.”

Evans and Ireland are convinced even Utah, which hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson, has evolved. Ireland is a former high school math teacher, and can remember when the school board voted to shut down every student organization at East High School in Salt Lake in 1996 order to prevent students from starting a gay-straight alliance club. Evans watched some of her own family members support the ban same-sex marriage in 2003.

Times may have changed. A recent poll found the state’s residents evenly split over same-sex marriage, just 10 years after two-thirds of voters in the state voted to ban it. Evans and Ireland could have left Utah long ago for a state that would have been more accepting of their marriage. They think that eventually, voters in their home state will come around.

“The home Stacia and I have created here is a place we don’t want to leave for the rest of our lives.” Evans said. “We’ve decided we’re going to live long enough to have it happen here.”

All In with Chris Hayes, 1/6/14, 9:23 PM ET

Supreme Court halts gay marriage in Utah

Chris Hayes and panel discuss what’s next for the nearly 1,000 gay and lesbian couples who just got married in Utah.

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RELATIONSHIPS: Christina Milian Says She and Fiancé Jas Prince ‘Act Like Brother and Sister’

christina milian & jas prince*(Via iDateDaily) – When people describe a couple’s interaction, they’ll generally say “they fight like cats and dogs” or “they’re inseparable like siamese twins.”

It’s very rare that a couple will be described as siblings. In a recent appearance on “Bethenny,” singer/actress Christina Milian talked wedding plans and love with the talk show host.

Things got a little weird when Milian told Bethenny that she and her fiancé, record label executive Jas Prince, “act like brother and sister.”

“He’s a ton of fun we are like best friends, okay this sounds weird guys don’t get grossed out but we act like brother and sister where we are kind of like catty and annoying with each other…but we get it,” she told the talk show host.

When discussing the wedding, Milian believes the wedding will be big due to her fiancé’s large family, but she also insinuated that they’re very much paying attention to the financial aspect of the ceremony.

Get the REST of this story at iDateDaily.

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ACLU Brings Out Big Gunn for Gay Marriage Contest – U.S. News & World Report (blog)

Tim Gunn and the American Civil Liberties Union are trying to make it work for same-sex couples who can't get married at home.

Gunn, the host of fashionable television shows "Project Runway" and "Under the Gunn," was tapped to be the spokesman for the ACLU's "My Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding" contest, which will give $5,000 to five same-sex couples who live in states where their union isn't legal.

"These states need a makeover," a cartoon version of Gunn chided in the contest's promotional video.

"Of course as soon as I heard about it I thought, 'Well who wouldn't want to join up and be part of this?' And I didn't have a moment of hesitation," the fashion great told Whispers.

[READ: When Tim Gunn Comes to Washington, People Run]

So far, more than 35,000 votes have been cast to help 107 couples get married. Participants were asked to tell their love stories and share a creative way they could be carried across the border, into a state where same-sex marriage is legal. The top online vote-getters win.

"The ACLU is looking for five couples to travel by elephant, sky-dive or even hot air balloon across snow, forests and deserts to where it is legal to marry," Gunn explained in the video.

One couple suggested taking a horse-drawn carriage, while another wished to get married on the pedestrian bridge between Nebraska and Iowa. Other ideas included having Lady Gaga officiate, and one couple wouldn't say much except that their dream wedding would involve first-class plane tickets and lots of glitter.

The contest is being used as a way to showcase bigger legal questions.

"I see this contest as a way to highlight the crazy patchwork of protections that exist all across the country, where in some states you can get married and in other states you can't," said James Esseks, the director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project. "And when you travel from place to place you kind of go from married to unmarried, married to unmarried in a way that seems really ridiculous."

As an example, Esseks mentioned a current case the ACLU is attached to involving a lesbian couple who live in Northern Virginia. Wed in D.C., and with one spouse working in D.C., the couple's marriage isn't recognized when they're home at night.

"When she's at work during the day, she's a married woman with a daughter, and on her commute on the way home to Northern Virginia, in the eyes of the commonwealth, she becomes a single mother," Esseks said. "That's not the reality of her life – she didn't decide to become a single mother."

Aside from custody issues, Esseks noted that simply filing taxes – federally as a couple and in-state as single people – is a huge process.

Turning to the contest, Esseks said he wasn't sure what the legality of an airplane wedding would be, as one set of contestants suggested. However, a straight couple, Esseks said, would never have to worry.

"They wouldn't have to stop and think, 'Gee which state are we over when we get married?'" Esseks noted. "Whereas a same-sex couple would say, 'Hmm, are we over Illinois yet? We can't do it yet, we're still over Ohio,'"

[ALSO: Is She Running? Tim Gunn Thinks Hillary Clinton's Fashion Choices Say Yes]

Overall, Gunn, who's worked with the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Maryland and The Trevor Project in the past, is optimistic.

"You know how slowly plodding change can be and I, quite frankly, think we're doing pretty well," Gunn said.

The contest, which is ongoing until Feb. 16, will just continue the push.

"It's just so preposterous," Gunn said. "Marriage equality should exist in every state."

More News:

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Middle school targets relationships, relevance

Indian Hill Middle School is promoting the 3 Rs of education. However, in this case, the reference isn’t to “reading, writing and arithmetic.”

It’s referring to “rigor, relevance and relationships.”

Indian Hill Middle School Principal Josh Kauffman and Assistance Principal Bridgette Ridley made a presentation to the Board of Education during the January board meeting.

Kauffman started the presentation by providing each board member with a Lego block.

The Lego corporation is successful because it focuses on “the brick.” It’s a commitment to focusing on the brick, a business practice that has been successful for the company, he said.

Similarly, the middle school has a focus, and it’s the student, he said, adding that each teacher has been given a Lego brick to remind them of their mission to serve the students.

“It’s a daily reminder, something tactile,” said Kauffman.

Ridley then proceeded to discuss “rigor” in the school, which involves training in a specific type of discipline in the school.

“(We) continue to monitor learning, growth and academic progress,” said Ridley, adding that this year a focus is also on implementing Common Core Standards required by the state.

Ridley also discussed “relationships,” citing the importance of activities such as Teacher Appreciation Week and the recent “No Shave November” in which the male staff at the school were encouraged to grow beards to raise money for charity.

This initiative raised more than $4,000 for leukemia research, according to Ridley.

She said as part of these relationships, the retention of students, who may choose to attend a different school, is essential.

“Loss of students continues to decrease,” she said.

The discussion then proceeded to the topic of “relevance.”

Kauffman said an activity tied into this is called “A Day of Brave Ideas.” This is a day of brainstorming ways to be more effective, according to Kauffman.

Kauffman said there is a continuous push for teacher leadership and engaging in professional development.

He said this is reflected in the amount of participation Indian Hill Middle School teachers have had in state and national conferences.

Kauffman concluded the presentation by detailing the Bring Your Own Technology initiative, in which students are encouraged to bring their own laptops or computer tablets, to school.

This has been very successful, said Kauffman.

“It’s been fun and interesting to watch your growth the last couple of years,” said Superintendent Mark Miles referring to the middle school.

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ACLU Sues Utah for Not Recognizing Valid Marriages of Same-Sex Couples – American Civil Liberties Union News and Information

Utah Must Recognize the Marriages of Over 1,000 Utah Couples Who Legally Wed After Federal Court Decision

January 21, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

SALT LAKE CITY – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC filed a lawsuit today in Utah state court on behalf of four same-sex couples who were legally married in Utah after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted marriages from taking place while the state challenged the decision. Although the marriages were valid, the state has announced that it has placed recognition of their marriages on hold indefinitely.

"These couples were legally married under Utah law and their unions must be treated the same as any other Utah marriage," said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. "Even our attorney general said that the marriages were entitled to full recognition by the state at the time they were performed. Regardless of what ultimately happens in the federal challenge to Utah’s marriage ban, the marriages that already occurred are valid and must be recognized now."

The lawsuit argues that once same-sex couples are legally married in Utah, they gain protections that cannot retroactively be taken away under the due process clauses of the Utah and United States Constitution.

Some couples not only wanted to get married to demonstrate their commitment to each other, but also to ensure protection for their children. As a married couple, each parent can establish a legal connection to their children even if they’re not the biological parent or previously recognized adoptive parent. Otherwise, Utah law allows single parents to adopt, but forbids an unmarried partner from being recognized as a parent to the other’s biological or already-adopted children, which could have devastating legal implications.

"We acted as soon as we could to make sure our family could stay together in case, heaven forbid, something happens to one of us," said Matthew Barrazza, who is the adopted father of Jesse, the son he is raising with his husband Tony Milner. Milner currently is not recognized as their son’s parent. "We just want the peace of mind of knowing that whatever happens, Jesse has security of knowing his other parent will take care of and provide for him. Now, because the state refuses to recognize our marriage, this peace of mind is again out of reach."

Their adoption process is on hold because of the state’s refusal to recognize their marriage. Other couples worry that they will lose the ability to make decisions for each other or care for each other if one of them is hospitalized.

"The state has reduced these unions to second-class marriages," said Erik Strindberg of the firm Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC. "It is imperative that these marriages be recognized now, so that these couples and their families can receive the protections given to all other legally married couples in this great state."

The lawsuit is separate from the original federal case challenging Utah’s marriage ban, which is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. That case was brought by the law firm of Magleby & Greenwood on behalf of three other couples. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in that case.

"These couples and their families are suffering real immediate harm as long as their marriages are placed on hold," said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "These marriages were validly entered into under Utah law, and the state is legally obligated to recognize their marriages now instead of placing these couples in limbo."

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6 South Florida Couples Sue To Overturn Florida Gay Marriage Ban – CBS Local

MIAMI (CBS4) – Six gay and lesbian couples filed suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court Tuesday, challenging Florida’s ban on same sex marriages. They want to make the wedding bands that adorned their fingers not just symbolic but legal.

“We stand here for those who have applied for marriage licenses and faced the humiliation of being denied,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida an activist organization that has joined in the couples’ lawsuit along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“We spend our life together as if we are married,” said Melanie Alenier of her relationship of eight years with her partner Vanessa.

The couple, among the twelve people suing the state, has a five year-old son and owns a home together.

“We have been together for 25 years,” said Summer Greene of her relationship with Pam Faeber. They have a daughter and two grandchildren.

Greene said discrimination against Gays and Lesbians evokes her childhood memories of black people not being permitted to stay at her grandmother’s Miami Beach hotel, and Jews banned from membership in some South Florida country clubs.

Kathy Pareta and Karla Arguello have been together for 14 years, have a son, own a home and a business.

“We share our finances together, we go to church together, we serve our community together,” Pareta told reporters, bemoaning the law that forbids them to wed in Florida.

Activists believe the time is ripe for a legal challenge to Florida’s prohibition. Courts across the country have struck down many anti-gay laws, Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia and the United States Supreme Court last year overturned the federal Defense of Marriage act. Because of that decision same sex couples may not be denied federal benefits.

Plaintiffs in the Florida suit say they are standing on principal by not getting married in states where same sex vows are legal.

“Our family is here, our friends are here, our life is here. This is where we want to get married,” said Todd Delmay speaking for himself and his partner of 11 years, Jeff. “We don’t want to get married in another state.”

There is a deliberate legal strategy behind the suit being filed Tuesday in state, rather than federal courts. A Miami-Dade judge previously struck down a Florida ban on adoption of foster children by gay parents. And under current case law, it appears a ruling against the marriage ban – if upheld by the state supreme court – should make the decision final in Florida.

Among those bringing suit are Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz. Diaz’s father was a political prisoner in Cuba, and he feels he is following in his father’s footsteps.

“I think he would be very proud of us taking a stance on this issue and doing what we feel is the right thing, which is what he always believed,” Diaz said of his dad.

In 2008 a constitutional ban on gay marriage was approved overwhelmingly by Florida voters. Nearly 62% voted for the amendment. Gay rights activists are convinced the courts will overturn what they consider the constitutinal equivalent of mob rule.

“Rights, by their nature, are not to be put up to a popular vote,” said Smith of the Florida Equality group. “It is unfortunate that Florida took that route.”

Governor Rick Scott has never waivered in his belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Last June he brushed off the supreme court decision on the Defense of Marriage act, saying it had no impact on Florida.

While campaigning in Miami in June of 2010, Scott boasted to CBS4′s Gary Nelson of his own marital bliss.

“I’ve been married for 38 years,” said a beaming Scott. “I’m against gay marriage.”

The governor, and conservative Attorney General Pam Bondi, will most certainly wage a vigorous defense against the lawsuit filed Monday.

But activists are determined, and believe they will succeed in overturning the gay marriage prohibition.

Don Johnston faced a room full of reporters Tuesday and said he and his partner want to be able to legally speak six simple but profound words: “With this ring, I thee wed.”

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