[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that Florida's ban on same-sax marriage is unconstitutional and the state must recognize same-sex couples that were lawfully married in other states. The combined cases of Brenner v. Scott and Grimsley v. Scott involve 22 plaintiffs that currently reside in Florida, including nine same-sex couples who were lawfully married in other states, the surviving spouse of a same-sex couple married in New York, two individuals who have been in a same-sex relationship for 15 years that wish to marry in Florida and an organization asserting the rights of its members who lawfully entered same-sex marriages outside of Florida. The plaintiffs argued the Florida same-sex marriage provisions, Article 1 Sec. 27 [text] of the state constitution and Florida statute Sec. 741.212 [text], violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment [text]. The judge issued a stay [AP report] on Thursday's ruling, meaning same-sex couples will not immediately be able to marry in the state. However, one exception [Reuters report] to the stay was permitted, as the judge ordered that the surviving spouse of a same-sex partner of 47 years may amend the death certificate of the deceased to reflect her marriage. The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a public statement [press release] expressing disappointment with the ruling.
Since the US Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act [text] last year, numerous state and federal courts have declared state same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] bans unconstitutional. On Wednesday the US Supreme Court [official website] put a hold [JURIST report] on same-sex marriage in Virginia as it takes time to decide whether same-sex couples should be allowed to wed nationwide. In late July the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] announced that it will hear oral arguments [JURIST report] on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin before a panel of three judges in August. Also in July a judge for the US District Court for the District of Colorado [official website] struck down [JURIST report] Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, but he elected to stay his ruling until August 25 pending an appeal to a higher court.