Federal Judge Rules Florida's Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional; Immediately Stays Decision

Photo by George Martinez
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled today that Florida's gay marriage ban violates the Constitution 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. The federal judge's ruling follows similar rulings by state judges in four separate counties. However, like those rulings, Hinkle immediately stayed his decision.

Thus, same-sex couples in Florida will still have to wait for further court decisions before getting those marriage licenses.

See also: Same-Sex Marriage Could Give $182.2 Million Boost to Florida's Economy

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Same-Sex Marriage Could Give $182.2 Million Boost to Florida's Economy

Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is chiefly a civil rights issue, but it's also an economic issue.

A new analysis by the UCLA School of Law's William Institute estimates Florida could see a $182.2 million boost to its economy if gay marriage were legalized -- and that's just in the first three years alone. That translates to roughly $12.2 million in taxes for the state and local governments.

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Florida's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Continues to Crumble: Broward Judge Rules Against It

Photo by George Martinez
Always a little late to the party, but still ahead of the rest of Florida, Broward County has joined the movement to strike down Florida's ban on same sex marriages. A judge in Broward this afternoon has ruled that Florida's ban is unconstitutional, a judgment that follows two similar opinions out of Monroe and Miami-Dade counties.

Unlike those cases, which involved couples seeking the right to marry, this case involved a couple that had entered a civil union in Vermont who were seeking the right to divorce in Florida.

See also: Miami-Dade Judge Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

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Meet Florida's Biggest Homophobes

Browse the Facebook page of the Florida Democratic League for a few seconds and you'll come across a disturbing image of an effigy of a black man hanging from a lamp post with a sign attached to his dead body: "This n***** voted."

The image accompanied a rant on Miami-Dade Judge Sarah I. Zabel's decision to rule in favor of gay marriage. The ranter claimed that Zabel had "judicially lynched" Florida voters who had voted in favor of the state's 2008 constitutional ban on gay marriage.

If you find dredging up painful images from racist past to enforce present discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation logically absurd, at best, to deeply offensive, at worst, you're probably not familiar with the thinking of Florida's last bastion of (loosely) organized homophobes.

See also: The Top Ten Outed Right-Wing Homophobes

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Miami-Dade Judge Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

photo by Phillip Pessar via Miami New Times Flickr group
After three weeks of deliberation, Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Pareto v. Ruvin lawsuit, ruling that same-sex couples in Florida's most densely populated county can receive marriage licenses. That order has been stayed, however, pending an appeal by the state's attorney general.

"We are both beyond excited. Words can't explain really," says Vanessa Alenier, who filed the suit with her partner Melanie. "It's little surreal to look at Melanie and know, we will soon be married in the state we love."

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

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Marco Rubio Pleads for "Tolerance" for His Intolerance of Gay Marriage

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Marco Rubio, a man who used to attend South Beach foam parties, is shifting toward full-out cultural conservative warrior mode as he prepares for his political future.

In a speech today before the Catholic University of America's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, he stressed a need for "tolerance" of those who are intolerant of gay marriage.

Perhaps "please tolerate my intolerance" would make a good slogan for his 2016 campaign.

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Judge Won't Allow Gay Marriage to Start in the Keys Tomorrow

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Attorney General Pam Bondi
No wedding bells will ring for gay couples in the Florida Keys tomorrow.

Monroe County judge Luis Garcia ruled last week that Florida's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately filed to appeal the decision. Today Garcia refused to lift Bondi's stay, and the ban will remain in effect while the case works it way through the appeals process.

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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

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

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Photo by George Martinez
Across Florida, same sex couples are anxiously awaiting rulings on three lawsuits challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. But couples are already planning out where to gather when the rulings finally land, which could happen any day.

"Melanie and I have been on pins and needles all week hoping for a positive ruling," says Vanessa Alenier, who with her partner Melanie is among the six couples in the Pareto v. Ruvin case. "We are already a complete family, but the ruling will get us one step closer to a complete family in the eyes of the law."

See also: Miami Case Could Decide Future of Gay Marriage In Florida

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Miami Case Could Decide Future of Gay Marriage in Florida

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Photo by George Martinez
It's about friggin time!
On Wednesday afternoon, Miami Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel presided over a hearing regarding an issue that has torn many Floridians apart-- whether lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to marry.

In 2008, 62 percent of Florida voters amended the state's constitution to only recognize marriages between a man and woman. This past January, six same-sex couples sued to challenge this law after Harvey Ruvin, the county clerk, refused to issue them marriage licenses.

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