Frenchman married to South Florida man sues to pay in-state tuition rate at Florida Atlantic University

South Florida travel writer Paul Rubio and French husband Gildas Dousset, who is suing Florida Atlantic University to pay in-state tuition.
South Florida travel writer Paul Rubio and French husband Gildas Dousset, who is suing Florida Atlantic University to pay in-state tuition.
Steve Rothaus / Miami Herald Staff

The French husband of a lifelong South Florida man has sued Florida Atlantic University to recognize their 2013 Massachusetts marriage and allow him to pay in-state tuition fees.

Journalism student Gildas Dousset wed Fort Lauderdale travel writer Paul Rubio on July 25, 2013, a month after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the federal government to recognize the marriage of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer.

Dousset said that if he was a woman married to Rubio, FAU would charge him $199.54 per credit hour, but that because the university does not recognize their marriage, he must pay the nonresident rate, $718.09 per credit hour.

“We can’t afford to pay out-of-state tuition anymore,” said Dousset, who stopped attending the university after the fall 2013 semester.

The university said Friday it had no choice but to follow Florida law and reject Dousset’s request for in-state tuition.

“The lawsuit challenges Florida statute 741.212 that was signed into law in 1997. It requires that no state agency, including state universities, can recognize same-sex marriages. This includes recognition for the purposes of in-state tuition as outlined by Florida law,” according to a statement by Joshua D. Glanzer, the university’s assistant vice president for media relations and public affairs. “Florida Atlantic University, and every Florida state college and university, is bound to follow all the laws of the State of Florida unless they are deemed unconstitutional by the court.”

Rubio, 36, who was born at Baptist Health South Florida in Kendall, said he met Dousset in 2008, when he lived three months in France to write a Paris travel guide.

“I went to Paris, fell in love and ended up bringing Gildas home,” Rubio said. “He moved here July 2009. We have a wonderful relationship. We were waiting to get married. As soon as we had the opportunity to do so, we did.”

Recognizing Dousset’s marriage to Rubio, the federal government issued him a green card Nov. 20.

Before the wedding, Dousset lived in South Florida and attended college as an international student.

After graduation from Broward College, he enrolled at FAU. So far, he has earned 12 credits and needs another 48 to receive a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Following their wedding, Dousset wrote to FAU asking how he could change his student classification from international to resident.

“They said, just bring in the marriage documents, etc.,” Rubio said. “Whoever he was dealing with at the time assumed because of his name, Gildas, that he was a woman. He kept saying he was married to a ‘him.’ 

Eventually, Dousset applied in person.

“It was like wait a second: What’s going on here?,” Rubio said. “They wouldn’t accept the marriage certificate. They wouldn’t even accept the application to check the box that ‘I’m applying for residency based on marrying a Florida resident.’ 

On Dec. 20, the school noted on a residency appeals committee form that “State of Fl does not recognize marriage other than between man / woman.”

Dousset’s attorney, George Castrataro of Fort Lauderdale, said he believes this is the first case of its kind in Florida.

The appeal was filed Wednesday in the state’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach.

Castrataro, who is representing Dousset along with National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco and Washington, said he hopes FAU will officially respond to the suit in about a month.

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