A federal judge on Thursday struck down
Florida's ban on gay marriage, saying it was unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of
Tallahassee also ordered the state to recognize the out-of-state
marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Hinkle, however, stayed his order.
“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,” he wrote in his 33-page
order. “Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how
those views could have been held.”
“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,” he added.
While Hinkle's decision is the first to
affect the entire state, it comes after judges in four counties
reached similar conclusions.
Plaintiffs in the case, Brenner v.
Scott, include 10 gay couples, including 1 seeking to get
married, and SAVE, an LGBT rights advocate.
“While we are overjoyed that the
judge erred on the side of fairness by ordering the state of Florida
recognize the legal marriages of the plaintiffs, we will continue to
make the case that it is Florida's responsibility to recognize the
legal marriages of ALL same-sex couples, and not only those named as
plaintiffs in our suit,” Tony Lima, the group's executive director,
said in a statement.
(Thanks to Equality
Case Files for the documents.)