U.S. judge strikes down Fla. ban on same-sex marriage

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from USAToday,

A federal judge declared Florida’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional Thursday, but he delayed allowing county clerks to issue licenses, pending appeals.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, sitting in Tallahassee, ruled that the 2008 voter-approved measure defining marriage as only between one man and one woman violated the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

“The founders of this nation said in the preamble to the United States Constitution that a goal was to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. Liberty has come more slowly for some than for others,” he wrote in a 33-page opinion covering two cases, noting that it took the Supreme Court 200 years to invalidate laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

“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. Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held,” Hinkle declared.

The ruling, which also applies to same-sex marriages performed in other states, followed similar decisions by Florida judges in four counties. The state attorney general has appealed those decisions and will challenge Hinkle’s order.

Hinkle issued his opinion in Brenner v. Scott and Grimsley v. Scott a day after the U.S. Supreme Court intervened to prevent same-sex couples from marrying in Virginia after a federal appeals court struck down the state’s voter-approved ban in July.

Attorneys general in Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma have asked the justice to pass final judgment on whether states can prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.

Since the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act last year, 20 federal courts have ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, Hinkle noted.

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