Florida's ban on gay marriage received
a third blow on Monday as a state judge declared the ban
Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen
declared the ban, adopted by voters in 2008, invalid and ordered
Florida officials to recognize the civil union of Heather Brassner
and Megan Lade.
“To deny same-sex couples the right
to enjoy the same laws, benefits and protections of opposite-sex
couples without a rational governmental interest … denies equal
citizenship,” Cohen wrote in his 16-page brief.
Brassner and Lade entered a Vermont
civil union in 2002. According to Brassner, the relationship soured
four years ago after Lade cheated on her and soon after disappeared.
Brassner would like to move on and
perhaps one day marry her new girlfriend.
She's unable to dissolve the
relationship in Vermont because the state wants Lade to sign off on
“We've been separated for four
years,” Brassner, 41, told The
Miami Herald's Steve
Rothaus. “I call it 'the invisible string.' It's hard
because you've moved on but there is that fear there, that they may
come back and try to get you. I live in fear that she might go after
me for money. In other states, she could use my name to buy
property. I've been checking my credit reports. In a state where
they recognize it, she has spousal rights that I don't.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has
appealed two successful challenges to Florida's ban. At least four
additional cases are making their way through state and federal
challenges to Florida's gay marriage ban seek to merge.)