[JURIST] A judge in Florida’s Monroe County ruled [opinion] Thursday that the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled in favor of same-sex couples who had challenged the voter-approved ban after they were denied a marriage license by the Monroe County clerk. In his ruling, Garcia found that Florida’s marriage laws violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment:
This court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority. Whether it’s the NRA protecting our right to bear arms when the City of Chicago attempted to ban handguns within its city limits; or when Nazi supremacists won the right to march in Skokie, Illinois a predominantly Jewish neighborhood; or when a black woman wanted to marry a white man in Virginia; or when black children wanted to go to an all-white school, the Constitution guarantees and protects ALL of its citizens from government interference with those rights. All laws passed whether by the legislature or by popular support must pass the scrutiny of the United States Constitution, to do otherwise diminishes the Constitution to just a historical piece of paper.
Thursday’s ruling would only have legalized same-sex marriage in Monroe County, but it is currently on hold pending an appeal. However, there are numerous other pending challenges to the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
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. Last month a federal judge in Indiana ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional [JURIST report]. Also in June the ACLU challenged Alabama’s same sex marriage ban, days after Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban [JURIST reports] was struck down. In May a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] Pennsylvania’s same sex marriage ban. That followed a similar ruling in Oregon, where a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] that state’s same sex marriage ban as well. Nineteen US states currently allow same-sex marriage.