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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 22 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 34
Florida too: Federal judge strikes down same-sex marriage ban
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Florida too: Federal judge strikes down same-sex marriage ban

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Federal District Judge Robert A. Hinckle ruled on August 21 that Florida's law barring same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Florida law violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, Hinckle found, and the state's rationale for denying marriage to Gay and Lesbian couples not only has no rational basis, but would fail an even higher level of judicial scrutiny.

'The undeniable truth is that the Florida ban on same-sex marriage stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice,' Hinckle wrote in his opinion, and 'moral disapproval alone cannot sustain' a ban restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

'Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts,' the judge added. 'Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage.'

Like most other federal rulings, Hinckle's has been stayed pending appeal.

The judge ruled in two lawsuits that had been consolidated into a single hearing. In one, the ACLU represented eight married couples and one widow who wanted Florida to recognize their marriages just as the state would have if they were opposite-sex spouses. SAVE, an LGBT rights organization, also joined the suit.

In the other case, one plaintiff couple wanted to get married in Florida, and another wanted their marriage recognized in Florida. They were represented by private attorneys.

'I am overjoyed that the state we made our home in will soon recognize that what Carol and I had was marriage,' said plaintiff Arlene Goldberg. Her wife and partner of 47 years, Carol Goldwasser, died, and Goldberg wishes to be recognized as Goldwasser's widow.

Four Florida state judges have also found state law unconstitutional, and other lawsuits are pending in state courts. Those decisions only affect Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties, however.

Hinckle's ruling strikes down Florida law statewide. A Florida state appellate court ruling upholding the county courts' decisions would also have the same effect.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed the state court decisions and is expected to appeal the federal ruling as well.

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