Federal judge strikes down Florida's gay marriage ban, stays ruling

TAMPA Fla. Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:31pm EDT

Groom figurines are seen on a cake at a ceremony to celebrate the wedding of Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California June 28, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Groom figurines are seen on a cake at a ceremony to celebrate the wedding of Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California June 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - A federal judge in north Florida on Thursday struck down the state's gay marriage ban as unconstitutional, but stayed the ruling, leaving same-sex couples still unable to marry in the state.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Florida's Northern District in Tallahassee is the fifth judge in the state to rule against a same-sex marriage ban approved by voters in 2008, but the first federal judge to do so.

"The institution of marriage survived when bans on interracial marriage were struck down, and the institution will survive when bans on same-sex marriage are struck down," Hinkle wrote. "Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts," he added.

Hinkle found the same-sex marriage ban violated equal protection and due process protections under the U.S. Constitution.

The ruling addressed two lawsuits involving 10 same-sex couples, mostly married in other states and seeking recognition in Florida. The plaintiffs also included a woman, Arlene Goldberg, whose wife had recently passed away.

In an exception to the stay, the judge ordered the death certificate for Goldberg's wife to be corrected to reflect her marriage to her partner of 47 years.

"There is no good reason to further deny Ms. Goldberg the simple human dignity of being listed on her spouse’s death certificate," Hinkle wrote.

While stayed, Thursday's federal court ruling applies more broadly than previous rulings in state courts with limited jurisdiction in several south Florida counties, said Stephen Rosenthal, lead attorney in the case involving the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and SAVE, a gay-rights organization in South Florida.

The federal court ruling should speed up the process of bringing Florida's cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, added David Weinstein, a former state prosecutor in Miami now in private practice.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed the earlier rulings, arguing the issue should be decided by the Supreme Court. A spokeswoman said Bondi is reviewing Thursday's ruling.

In all cases, marriage for same-sex couples in Florida remains on hold.

Since a June 2013 Supreme Court ruling struck down a federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman, nearly 30 federal and state courts have ruled against state bans on same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court is expected to take up the issue in its coming term, which starts in October and ends in June. It will likely be the most momentous civil rights case in years.

(Additional reporting by David Adams and Bill Cotterell; Editing by David Adams, Eric Beech and Eric Walsh)

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Comments (2)
joshuamolina wrote:
US District Judge Robert L Hinkle I want you to know that you are alone, you have many people that against your absurd and immoral judgement. Most importantly God does not stands with you, don’t doubt it. Gay marriage is not only immoral and goes against all human nature it’s a the poisoning of the human mind and natural behavior. Christians are simply the messengers of God the creator of heaven and earth. We have understanding because God in his abundant mercy has given us wisdom and forgiveness of our sins through his loving mercy. Many people might find this offensive and I am glad because correction hurts and without the piercing of words there is no understanding. When we correct our young children they hate us but when they are mature and wiser they come to love us and thank us for not giving up on them. That is why we must speak the truth. Gods blessings be upon you and may you acquire wisdom to stand with us and do what is correct and normal.
Don’t become this group described in the word of God amend your ways so that Gods judgement does not fall upon you and your children. Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Aug 22, 2014 11:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
joshuamolina wrote:
What happened to freedom of speech why won’t you place my comment?

Aug 22, 2014 11:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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