A Florida judge on Thursday declared
the state's ban on gay marriage invalid.
In a 14-page ruling, Monroe County
Circuit Judge Luis Garcia called marriage a fundamental right
guaranteed to all citizens by the U.S. Constitution.
“Within the body of the Fourteenth
Amendment is the Due Process Clause, which guarantees all citizens
have certain 'fundamental rights' and that citizens have a right to
'liberty' from governmental intrusion and this right is to be
guaranteed and protected by the United States Constitution,” Garcia
wrote. “The right to liberty has been described by the United
States Supreme Court as, 'the right to define one's own concept of
existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human
life.' … Encompassed within the right to liberty is the fundamental
right to marry.”
“This court concludes that a
citizen's right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the
individual. The right these plaintiffs seek is not a new right, but
is a right that these individuals have always been guaranteed by the
United States Constitution.”
“This court finds Article 1, Section
27 of The Florida Constitution and Florida Statute 741.01(1) as
unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Garcia ordered Monroe County Clerk Amy
Heavilin to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian
couples on Tuesday, July 22.
Plaintiffs Aaron Huntsman, 43, and
William Lee Jones, 42, filed the case in April after they were denied
a marriage license by Heavilin.
The men, bartenders at 801 Bourbon Bar
in Key West, celebrated their 11th year together on June
In defending the ban, Florida Assistant
Attorney General Adam Tanenbaum told Garcia he should “respect the
policy decision made by voters,” a reference to Amendment 2, a
constitutional amendment prohibiting the state from recognizing any
union other than a heterosexual marriage, which was approved by 62
percent of voters in 2008.
Five additional challenges to the ban
are wending their way through state and federal courts, including one
heard earlier this month.
rights foe compares overturning Florida's gay marriage ban to KKK
(Brief provided by Equality