Florida Gay Marriage Ban is Ruled Unconstitutional, For the Second Time This Month
In case you needed another sign that same-sex marriage will soon become the norm across the U.S., a Florida judge overturned the state's gay marriage ban on Friday, saying the ban was unconstitutional and offensive to "basic human decency." It's actually the second time in two weeks that Florida has had a definitive judicial ruling on same-sex marriage — only last week, a Monroe County judge also found the ban violated the constitution. As has been the case in many other states, though, both decisions have been stayed pending appeals. Which means that while the rulings are a victory, gay couples aren't going to be marrying in Miami just yet.
Friday's ruling, issued unequivocally by Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel, applies to Miami-Dade County. Last week, Judge Luis Garcia also overturned the Florida's gay marriage ban, though his applied to residents of the Florida Keys. But same-sex couples in both counties are going to have to go to one of the 19 states in the U.S. that do allow same-sex marriage, if they feel like tying the knot — the Florida Attorney General's Office immediately appealed Garcia's ruling, and so both Garcia's and Zabel's decisions have been stayed for the time being.
Nonetheless, the language used by Zabel is a small victory in itself. While Garcia's decision emphasized the need to protect the rights of citizens, no matter how unpopular they are— he used the example of when "Nazi supremacists won the right to march in Skokie, Illinois, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood," whatever that's supposed to mean — Zabel's was undeniably positive. She wrote in her decision, according to Reuters:
Preventing couples from marrying solely on the basis of their sexual orientation serves no governmental interest. It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society ... However, as evidenced by the avalanche of court decisions unanimously favoring marriage equality, the dam that was denying justice on this front has been broken.
The next step in the Florida's fight for gay marriage will be when both cases are taken to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, according to the AP. After that, the battle will head over to the state Supreme Court. With almost 57 percent of Floridians now supporting gay marriage, though, it's not a leap to imagine some same-sex ceremonies in Miami soon.