The ruling by Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia applies only to Monroe County, which primarily consists of the Keys, and will certainly be appealed. The lawsuit contended that the same-sex marriage ban approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 violated the federal 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. The judge said licenses could not be issued until Tuesday at the earliest.
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Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year, although those rulings remain in various stages of appeal. Many legal experts say the U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately have to decide the question for all states.
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.
During a recent hearing on a related Florida case in Miami-Dade County, attorneys for gay couples noted that, after a long legal fight, the state finally allowed them to adopt children but refused to recognize them as married.
“That inequality stigmatizes the couples and their children as second-class citizens,” attorney Sylvia Walbolt said. “Same-sex marriages are completely beneficial. They are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution.”
Along with the similar lawsuit pending in Miami-Dade, a separate lawsuit is pending in a federal court in Tallahassee seeking to force Florida to allow gay marriage and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Anita Bryant must have spit out her orange juice over this news.
UPDATE: Read the order of the court Here (.pdf).