Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, argues in court documents that recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples would “impose significant public harm.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing eight couples in a consolidated federal lawsuit challenging the state's ban on recognizing the out-of-state marriages of gay couples.

Lawmakers approved a law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples nearly two decades ago. Voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment reinforcing the ban.

In asking the court to throw out the lawsuit, Bondi's office also argues that the state's ban has “a close, direct, and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.”

Equality Florida, the state's largest LGBT rights advocate, called on Bondi to “reconsider this stand in this defining moment.”

“A defense of the indefensible only squanders our state's resources and delays justice for hundreds of thousands of Florida families,” the group said.

Six cases challenging Florida's marriage ban have been filed in state and federal courts since January. Two – Breener et al v. Scott et al and Grimsley and Albu v. Scott – were consolidated.