Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban in the Florida Keys; Pam Bondi to Appeal

Photo: George Martinez
A Monroe County judge has struck down Florida's gay marriage ban, and ruled that licenses could be issued to same-sex partners as soon as next Tuesday. However Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia's ruling only applies to the county that's mostly continuous with the Florida Keys. It's still possible that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could request a stay on the decision.

The defendants in the case are Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, two bartenders who have been a couple for 11 years. Their case mirrors another in Miami-Dade involving six same-sex couple before Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel. She has yet to issue a ruling, but is expected to within the month.

Update: Bondi has indeed announced her decision to appeal the decision. See more below.

See also: Florida Couples Anxiously Await Ruling on Gay Marriage Challenge, Plan Gatherings

Back in 2008, Florida voters passed Amendment 2 which placed a ban on not only gay marriage but any similar union between same sex couples in the state constitution. It's only fitting then that a Monroe County judge is the first to strike the ban down. It was the only county in Florida where a majority of voters, 52 percent, voted against the ban.

The biggest town in the county is Key West, long known as a gay haven. Instead of watching a ball drop on New Year's Eve, residents gather around a popular gay bar to watch a drag queen descend in an oversized shoe.

The case was being argued by Florida Assistant Attorney General Adam Tanenbaum, who is also representing the state in the Miami-Dade case. His main argument was that courts should not overthrow the will of the voters. However, recent polling indicates that if the measure was placed on the ballot today it would not reach the 60 percent threshold it would need to become law.

A Quinnipiac poll from April found that 56 percent of registered voters supported same-sex marriage.

Judge Garcia, who was originally appointed in 2000 by Republican Governor Jeb Bush, ruled that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

"This court concludes that a citizen's right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual," wrote Garcia.

Though, Garcia voluntarily issued a stay on his decision until next Tuesday, Bondi could tie up the decision in court before marriage licenses are actually issued. She would need to request a stay in the case that would need to be approved by state court of appeals or Florida Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, supporters are hopeful that this means progress is finally being made in Florida on the same-sex marriage front.

"Today's court ruling in Florida is further proof that America is ready for marriage equality nationwide," said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow in a statement. "Unfortunately, same-sex couples in a majority of states still don't have the right to marry, creating a confusing patchwork of marriage laws across the country. This is not only unsustainable, but it's also unconstitutional."

Update: Unsurprisingly, Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi has indeed decided to appeal.

"With many similar cases pending throughout the entire country, finality on this constitutional issue must come from the U.S. Supreme Court," she said in a statement.

It's likely a higher court will stay the decision, meaning licenses will not be issued next week. The case could ultimately be decided by the Florida Supreme Court.

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60 comments
Kori Williams
Kori Williams

Florida is such a backwards state, decades behind the more progressive California.

Jo Braga
Jo Braga

It won't be statewide legal for a while.. It is all about money lets not think it is for the good of equality here.. The keys will make a huge profit off of the marriage tourism here.. But I'm glad my friends have somewhere to go to get married.. But not that it will not be recognized statewide unless they live in the keys.

Mar To
Mar To

Paul Smith, you need to go to Gaza so you can live with people like you who think we are in 1400! By the way... A black guy being homophobic (same as a racist). Never do what you don't want others do to you.... We are all the same. Show some respect!

Kurt A Zauke
Kurt A Zauke

Stop using the bible and religion as an excuse to prevent people from being happy and living their lives...it was a book written as a way to rule people and is subject to interpretation and changes. This is just like laws that are made and are changed to do what it right for all people to be happy and free from any type of enslavement or inequality THAT IS A GOD GIVEN RIGHT....AMEN!!

Manny Bitter Clinger
Manny Bitter Clinger

Hopefully Bondi, and others will continue upholding Florida's constitution and continue to prevent these reprobates from calling what they want to do, marriage

EzƦă VɅǹ
EzƦă VɅǹ

Just wondering , Paul, do you think divorce should be legal?

Clemente Morales
Clemente Morales

Pam Bondi, and all others on the far right, are going to keep appeasing their constituents. Until then, you're going to get the same reaction on all sensible issues.

Paul A Smith
Paul A Smith

Marriage is defined as a bond between a man and a woman, not between two man or between two women that is Abomination in God eyes

Paul A Smith
Paul A Smith

These faggots need to go to the Gaza and try to get some rights, so Israel can bomb the shit out of there nasty ass.

Tom Koyzis
Tom Koyzis

It'll take away the sanctity of her three marriages...

davidtayler
davidtayler

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Stefano Alessio
Stefano Alessio

"Discrimination" has niente to do with the validity (or lack thereof) of marriage between homosexuals. This ruling is in contradiction to the underlying jurisprudence that makes possible the estate of marriage and as such, is null and voild. PUNTO.

Antonio Domenikos Divine
Antonio Domenikos Divine

A noted Justice said that a fundamental right is not subject to the will of the electorate. In cases where the electorate votes to discriminate, we have the Constitution to protect those damaged by laws that discriminate. When any law violates the protections in the Constitution, it is the legal duty of officers of the courts to note that violation and to act within their powers, Atty General Bondi included, to protect the rights of those protected by the Constitution, without regard to what the voters have decided. The voters have not the power to discriminate.

Frank Perez Toledo
Frank Perez Toledo

You know I also remember when my aunt couldn't marry my uncle because he looked black. He was, so what? The rights of all Floridians!!! Period!

Frank Perez Toledo
Frank Perez Toledo

You know you always show the flippant side; the majority of us are silent, hold professional jobs and pay an unfair amount of taxes! The rights of all Floridians are something to fight for!

Anthony Lambert
Anthony Lambert

Damn punkass gays are trying to take over everything,I will not let these faggots and dikes force their sick ass twisted lifestyle on me,to hell with that type of crap,im for traditional marriage between a man and a woman

Sheily Perez
Sheily Perez

Oh look about time we stop making gays fucking second class citizens

Di Manzano
Di Manzano

Lmaooooooooo Michael Joseph Perez

Michael Joseph Perez
Michael Joseph Perez

Not in key west Diane Di Manzano America America Manzano-Marrero. Key west weddings are for lesbians lol

Heather Rogerson
Heather Rogerson

Ray Grandon UF offers psychiatric services....check it out! Lol

Ray Grandon
Ray Grandon

Pedophilia[gay] is a brain disorder caused by mercury exposure says U of Florida so cure it to prevent child abuse as I blame the corrupt greedy governments for allowing to much pollution and putting profits before people's health!!!

Danny Martinez
Danny Martinez

The evil of the state government should never have the right to tell you to do anything especially in marriage

Carlos A Salazar
Carlos A Salazar

also, as a straight man living in Miami a city with a very large gay population I've yet to have gay people affect my life in any good or bad way due to their life style so why the fk should we interfere with theirs?

Carlos A Salazar
Carlos A Salazar

Chgo Davehahaha way to contradict yourself there buddy. I respect your beliefs and your opinion (also let me note I'm straight myself) however, first, what do you mean by "normal people" and second, "force it on everybody" is anyone trying to force you to marry a man? The problem with you "normal people" is that you fail to acknowledge that not everyone shares your exact opinions, in fact you fail to realize that's all they are , your OPINIONS. Jesus, it's funny the first thing I learned from religion was not to think of myself as better than other people, that man should never try to think of himself as GOD yet that's all you people do. You think your opinion is the only one that matters walking around being all self righteous and shit ...fk this I'm just gonna shut up. Just know this, because of people like you, the same people who you are trying to get to believed in God are loosing their faith in him.

Mario Francisco Garcia
Mario Francisco Garcia

If we can't call it marriage because of god and some one thousand year old rule or whatever then when are you going to start calling your wife "chattel"?

Robert Scott Wells
Robert Scott Wells

Cesar Delossantos ... You were the first to get it ? In the waiting list huh ? Lmao

Helen Donato
Helen Donato

Chgo Dave is it OK to call it divorce if it doesn't work out? Or is that sacred between man a woman and god as well???

moralvalues1949
moralvalues1949

The Windsor ruling:


1, “regulation of domestic relations” is “an area that has long been regarded as a virtually exclusive province of the States,” Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U. S. 393, 404. The significance of state responsibilities for the definition and regulation of marriage dates to the Nation’s beginning; for “when the Constitution was adopted the common understanding was that the domestic relations of husband and wife and parent and  child were matters reserved to the States,” Ohio ex rel. Popovici v. Agler, 280 U. S. 379, 383–384. Marriage laws may vary from State to State, but they are consistent within each State.

DOMA rejects this long-established precept. The State’s decision to give this class of persons the right to marry conferred upon them adignity and status of immense import. But the Federal Government uses the state-defined class for the opposite purpose—to impose restrictions and disabilities. The question is whether the resulting injury and indignity is a deprivation of an essential part of the libertyprotected by the Fifth Amendment, since what New York treats as alike the federal law deems unlike by a law designed to injure thesame class the State seeks to protect. New York’s actions were a proper exercise of its sovereign authority. They reflect both thecommunity’s considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaningof equality. Pp. 13–20.

moralvalues1949
moralvalues1949

w hen the federal district court in Utah struck down Utah’s marriage law a few days before Christmas last December, and the State’s request for a stay was denied by both the district court and the court of appeals, the Supreme Court unanimously issued a stay, blocking the district court’s judgment. It is quite rare for the Supreme Court to issue a stay when both lower courts have refused to do so, and the standard that it applies is whether the state had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. The stay issued by the Supreme Court in the Utah case therefore outweighs all of the district court decisions that have recent invalidate state marriage laws combined.

Di Manzano
Di Manzano

Michael Joseph Perez America Manzano-Marrero destination wedding? Lol

Gladys N Juan
Gladys N Juan

So sad to see some of these comments...Why shouldn't it be called a marriage? Because its two ppl of the same sex??? Most ppl who marry do it for love, is their love that different from a straight couple? Love is love...Would you call it something different if its two ppl of different races? I still get shocked at the discrimination and inequality that we have in this nation. English settlers came hear preaching the bible and forced that down everyone's throat, they even killed the natives...So, to all of those saying to stop trying to force it on everybody, remember that religion in this nation was forced on other ppl...I mean, the Indians didn't know about the bible until English settlers arrived in this country.

Francisco Lopez
Francisco Lopez

Firip Onitsuka can't argue with a bigot. it would be a waste of your time.

albertop
albertop

How is a committed marriage a "sick ass twisted lifestyle"? 

What is a traditional marriage to you? The 'traditional' marriages in the bible?


Pick one: (from the bible)


Between a man and his brothers widow (even if he's already married)?

Between a rapist and his victim?

Between a soldier and a his prisoner of war?

Between a man and his slave?

Between a man a his wives (multiple)?

Between a man and an underage girl?

Between a man and his arranged wife?


I'm sure there are a few more....


What of the "lifestyles" of these biblical sanction marriages? are they traditional enough for you?


Maybe you should just let grown tax-paying adults do as they wish, and afford them the same rights you are granted as a bigot.

raygrandon1961
raygrandon1961

You sound like you've been exposed to mercury so I know you need help!

kim1234
kim1234

Just so you know you ignorant asshole, the majority of pedophiles are straight, white males - probably such as yourself

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