A second judge on Friday struck down
Florida's ban on gay marriage.
Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh
Judicial Circuit Court in Miami ordered Miami-Dade County to allow
gay and lesbian couples to marry. Zabel stayed her order.
Shortly after the ruling, Florida
Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a notice of appeal.
Zabel compared the state's 2008
voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to
heterosexual couples to laws prohibiting interracial marriages.
“[T]his Court finds that the only
distinction between Loving and the instant case is that the
instant case deals with laws that deny the fundamental freedom to
marry based upon people's sexual orientation rather than their race,”
Zabel wrote in her 36-page ruling.
Florida's laws “improperly infringe
upon the Plaintiffs' ability to exercise their fundamental right to
marry the person of their choice, and upon their liberty interests
regarding personal autonomy, family integrity, association, dignity.
They also unlawfully discriminate on the basis of sexual
orientation,” she wrote.
Plaintiffs in the case – six gay
couples and Equality Florida Institute – are being represented by
the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm
Carlton Fields Jorden Burt.
Earlier this month, Monroe County
Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared the marriage ban unconstitutional.
Bondi has also appealed this case.
Four additional challenges to Florida's
ban are wending their way through state and federal courts.
According to a 2012 Washington Post
majority (54%) of Floridians support marriage equality, while 33
percent remain opposed.