Florida's ban on gay marriage received a third blow on Monday as a state judge declared the ban unconstitutional.

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 the divorce.

“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 courts.

(Related: Two challenges to Florida's gay marriage ban seek to merge.)