The Sunshine State is on its way to becoming a more accepting part of the union! Yesterday, a federal judge ruled Florida's same-sex marriage ban — which first went into law in 1977 and was added to the state's constitution in 2008 — to be in violation of the "due process" and "equal protection" provisions in the U.S. Constitution.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle's is the fifth judge in the past six weeks to rule that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. So what makes this decision more important? Hinkle's ruling covers all 67 counties in Florida, meaning the entire state is on its way to allowing same-sex marriages as well as recognizing lawful same-sex unions that took place elsewhere.
"The Florida provisions that prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully entered elsewhere, like the federal provision, are unconstitutional," Hinkle wrote in his ruling. "So is the Florida ban on entering same-sex marriage."
While it's certainly a win for same-sex couples, Hinkle's decision doesn't take effect just yet. The Guardian reports that the judge issued a stay delaying the effect of his decision, meaning same-sex couples cannot obtain a marriage license at this time. But his rationale for doing so certainly makes sense. CNN says that Hinkle issued that stay because he didn't want to leave couples in "legal limbo" if higher courts later reversed his decision.
"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," Hinkle wrote. "To paraphrase a civil rights leader from the age when interracial marriage was struck down, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice."
Ultimately, it appears the final decision will be left to the U.S. Supreme Court. We can only hope that sunny Florida joins the 20 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex marriages!