Thursday a Republican-appointed state judge struck down Florida’s ban on marriage for committed same-sex couples in what is now the 25th consecutive ruling by a federal or state court in favor of marriage equality in the past year.
Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia was appointed by former Governor Jeb Bush and re-elected in 2002 and 2008. The case, Huntsman v. Heavilin, was filed in Key West, and as of now the ruling only applies to Monroe County.
In his ruling Garcia wrote: “This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual.”
The ruling was stayed until Tuesday, July 22, at which point same-sex couples in Monroe County can begin obtaining marriage licenses, unless a stay is requested by the state attorney general and granted by the state court of appeals or Florida Supreme Court.
“Today’s court ruling in Florida is further proof that America is ready for marriage equality nationwide,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “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.”
“Like an unprecedented wave of state and federal courts across the country this past year, Judge Garcia did the right thing in affirming that committed same-sex couples share in the precious constitutional freedom to marry the person we love,” said Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson. “Florida’s same-sex couples and their loved ones want what all families want: joy, protections, security, and respect – just what the freedom to marry is all about. We can now add Florida’s voice to the urgent need for the Supreme Court to take a freedom to marry case and bring the entire country to national resolution, ending marriage discrimination across America.”
Same-sex couples can marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, meaning that 44 percent of Americans now live in states where gay couples are allowed to marry. Recent polling by the Washington Post/ABC News shows 59 percent of Americans support marriage equality, while other polling shows that the support includes a majority in the American South.
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