Tallahassee – A federal district judge has ruled that the 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
“The decision does have statewide implications, however it was immediately stayed immediately pending expected appeals,” said Baylor Johnson, American Civil Liberties Union spokesperson.
He said the judge ordered the stay in his ruling, which is the result of two lawsuits. One, filed by the ACLU on behalf of eight married same-sex couples and SAVE, a South Florida LGBT rights organization, fought for the marriage recognition for gay couples legally married out-of-state. The other lawsuit was filed in Jacksonville on behalf of two couples, one who wants to get married and one who wants their marriage recognized in the state of Florida.
The Aug. 21 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle applies to the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Florida and the recognition of marriage for couples legally married out-of-state, according to the ACLU.
Hinkle ruled that the argument in favor of denying marriage equality has no rational basis and would fail in any higher court, stating, “[t]he undeniable truth is that the Florida ban on same-sex marriage stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice,” and that “moral disapproval alone cannot sustain” the ban.
“Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts,” the ruling reads. “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.”
Daniel Tilley, the ACLU of Florida’s staff attorney for LGBT rights, said the organization is “thrilled” with the decision.
“Florida’s refusal to recognize their marriages serves no legitimate purpose and is hurtful to Florida families,” Tilley said in a media release. “We’re very pleased to see the ban held unconstitutional in such unequivocal terms so that all Florida families will soon finally have the same protections.”
Florida is now the 16th state where a federal court has struck down a marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the main provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in June 2013.