Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge on Thursday declared Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, joining state judges in four counties who have sided with gay couples wishing to tie the knot.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled that the ban added to Florida's constitution by voters in 2008 violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, meaning no marriage licenses will be immediately issued for gay couples.

Hinkle, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, compared bans on gay marriage to the long-abandoned prohibitions on interracial marriage and predicted both would be viewed by history the same way.

"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 in a 33-page ruling. "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.'"

[*](OP: This has to be one of the most abused quotes ever. For the record: that quote actually comes from the writings of abolitionist Theodore Parker, who died in 1860, before the outbreak of the Civil War, let alone the Civil Rights movement. I can't find any reference of anyone using it in response to Loving v Virginia.

Dr. King is famously known for using the quote, but not in that context, and he treated it as a quote, not an original thought.

Don't be lazy, Judge Hinkle: Source your damn quotes. Inaccuracy is for Republicans.

Bonus Fun Fact to round out my rant: the supposedly sexless nature of both of Parker's marriages have led some historians to suspect he might have been gay, but he might have just been incredibly impotent.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed the previous rulings striking down the ban in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties. Hinkle's ruling allows time for appeals in the federal case. Bondi has said the Florida cases should await a final ruling on gay marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A number of similar rulings around the country have been put on hold while appeals are pursued.

The latest Florida ruling came in a pair of lawsuits that brought by gay couples seeking to marry in Florida and others who want to force Florida to recognize gay marriages performed legally in other states. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which represented some of the gay couples, said the tide of rulings makes legal same-sex marriage in Florida appear inevitable.

"We're very pleased to see the ban held unconstitutional in such unequivocal terms so that all Florida families will soon finally have the same protections," said ACLU staff attorney Daniel Tilley.

Source: Associated Press via Al Jazeera America

Yet another federal judge has cited Justice Antonin Scalia in a decision striking down a gay marriage ban -- this time in Florida.

In a ruling Wednesday declaring Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle invoked Scalia's scathing dissent against a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that outlawed bans on consensual same-sex sodomy.

The Reagan-appointed justice warned that the Court had effectively knocked down the legal basis for banning same-sex marriage by ruling that moral disapproval of gay behavior was insufficient to take away rights from gays.

Hinkle's message: Scalia was right:
    The difficulty for the defendants is that the Supreme Court has made clear that moral disapproval, standing alone, cannot sustain a provision of this kind. Windsor so indicates. Further, in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), the Court upheld a state law prohibiting sodomy, basing the decision on the state’s prerogative to make moral choices of this kind. But later, in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), the Court revisited the issue, struck down a statute prohibiting gay sex, and expressly overruled Bowers. In his Lawrence dissent, Justice Scalia made precisely the point set out above—that a ban on same-sex marriage must stand or fall on the proposition that the state can enforce moral disapproval of the practice without violating the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Scalia put it this way: “State laws against . . . same-sex marriage . . . are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices.” Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 590 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

Hinkle is the latest of many federal judges to ironically cite Scalia's dissents from the 2003 case and the 2013 case, US v. Windsor, as harbingers of pro-gay-rights decisions to come.

Source: Sahil Kapur, Al Jazeera America

Floridian ONTDers: Please take a moment to Email Florida State Attorney Pam Bondi and express your disapproval/disappointment over her filing to appeal this decision in several counties. While public outcry is likely to do little to immediately sway her in this, as the cases drag on and the court costs accumulate, mounting public opposition to her efforts might force her to drop her appeals in order to save face, as has been the case in the past.