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Celebrating Pride: Miami attorney is a fierce warrior for equality

Pride Month: Elizabeth Schwartz is fierce warrior for LGBTQ community
Pride Month: Elizabeth Schwartz is fierce warrior for LGBTQ community

Local 10′s Pride Month series recognizes the progress made in the fight for equality. Elizabeth Schwartz is a Miami Beach native and attorney, and she’s been one of South Florida’s fiercest warriors for the LGBTQ community.

Elizabeth Schwartz remembers what it was like coming out to her parents.

“I remember coming out and my dad feeling like … it broke his heart that I had something that I couldn’t say sooner,” she says. “It took my mom a little longer to come around. We’re Jewish and she definitely had that goal of wanting to see me under the chuppah, the wedding canopy, with a nice Jewish boy.

“But she came around very quickly and fiercely.”

She also remembers election night in 2008.

“It was a tough night. It was the night that, of course, President Obama won the election,” she says. “It was super exciting but we also saw that at the time Amendment 2 had passed, codifying into our constitution what already existed in the statutes, which was that marriage should be defined as a man and woman.”

But that defeat was galvanizing.

After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Schwartz — a graduate of the University of Miami’s law school — helped lead the fight for gay marriage here at home, filing a lawsuit at the Miami-Dade Circuit Court demanding same-sex couples’ right to marry.

Victory came earlier than expected, on Jan. 5, 2015.

Gays in Miami-Dade were first granted the right to wed, a day before the rest of Florida.

“Point of pride for us in South Florida, and Florida, that we took down our ban ourselves,” Schwartz says. “We didn’t have to wait for the Supreme Court to take down our ban.”

Schwartz also helped fight to overturn Florida’s decades-old ban on gay adoption in 2010.

These days she helps LGBTQ couples on the road to parenthood.

“It’s been the journey of a lifetime helping form all these families,” she says.

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