BRADENTON – This week, a federal judge ruled that Florida's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, ordering the state to allow the marriage of same-sex couples and to recognize legal marriages that were performed in other states.
“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,” wrote U.S District Judge Robert Hinkle (Tallahassee) on Thursday. “Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.”
He added, “The institution of marriage survived when bans on interracial marriage were struck down, and the institution will survive when bans on same-sex marriage are struck down. Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts. Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage. Tolerating views with which one disagrees is a hallmark of civilized society.”
Hinkle stayed most of the effects of the ruling pending a sure-to-come appeal. His is the first legal ruling on same-sex marriage to have statewide impact.
22 individuals, including nine married couples, sued the state to recognize their marriages or grant them marriage licenses. Plaintiffs included the LGBT equal-rights group SAVE, which was represented by the ACLU of Florida.
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