U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled today that Florida's gay marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. The federal judge's ruling follows similar rulings by state judges in four 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 their marriage licenses.
"When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination," Hinkle wrote in his decision. "To paraphrase a civil rights leader from the age when interracial marriage was struck down, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.
"The Florida ban on same-sex marriage stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice," he continued, and that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples has "no rational basis."
The case was a consolidation of multiple lawsuits filed by ten couples and a widow suing the State of Florida to recognize their same-sex unions that had been granted in other states.
Earlier in the process, Hinkle ruled that anti-gay group the Florida Family Association could not intervene in the case as a defendant.
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"No FFA member seeks to enter a same-sex marriage or will be directly affected if others enter same-sex marriages," he wrote in his ruling.
Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed all previous rulings that have found the gay marriage ban unconstitutional and is expected to appeal this ruling as well.