Judge Declares Florida’s Ban on Gay Marriage Unconstitutional


A judge in Monroe County, Florida has struck down the state's ban on gay marriage, the Orlando Sentinel reports:

FloridaCircuit Judge Luis Garcia in Monroe County made history, ruling that a provision in the Florida Constitution that outlaws same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

His ruling is a resounding victory for same-sex couples but only clears the way for gays to marry in a single Florida county: Monroe.

It is the only one over which he has jurisdiction.

Earlier this year, two Key West men sued Monroe County Clerk of Courts Amy Heavilin, demanding that she issue them a marriage license.

The case was assigned to Garcia, who today ruled in the couple's favor, ordering Heavilin to give them and "similarly situated same-sex couples" those licenses..

In anticipation of a possible run on the local clerk's marriage license bureau, Garcia ordered that his ruling not take effect until Tuesday.

 More on Aaron Huntsman and Lee Jones, the couple behind the lawsuit, HERE.

The AP adds:

The ruling by Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia applies only to Monroe County, which primarily consists of the Keys, and will certainly be appealed. The lawsuit contended that the same-sex marriage ban approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 violated the federal 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. The judge said licenses could not be issued until Tuesday at the earliest.

Attorney General Pam Bondi and ban supporters argued that the referendum vote should be respected and that Florida has sole authority to define marriage in the state. The Florida amendment defined marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman.

Celebratory gatherings have been planned in 14 cities across Florida this evening.

Posted July 17, 2014 at 2:00pm ETC by Andy Towle


  1. will says

    SO, a (non-federal?) judge decides the Florida State Constitution’s ban is unconstitutional and this applies to one county only and it will certainly be appealed?

    This does not sound like much of a victory.

  2. Zlick says

    I think it’s a very interesting victory. The crazy quilt of equal-marriage rights status from state to state is one of the things driving the road toward national equality. A similar crazy quilt within a single state will only hasten that process. Love this.

  3. Howard says

    I’m not a lawyer but this sounds like a great victory for our side. Even though this only applies to Monroe County for now, it will lead to the next legal challenge which is making the whole state of Florida recognize the valid marriages of gay couples from Monroe County. Now that marriage has been granted to gay couples, the state will be in the position of trying to take away a right that has been established at a trial. This is almost like the Prop 8 in California back in 2008. The dominoes are falling fast and furious.

  4. says

    Every new decision saying the state bans are unconstitutional is a victory. If we’re headed to the Supreme Court we want as much legal consensus as possible. And being married in one county/state and single in another is unsustainable, dominoes falling.

    This isn’t the only case in Florida. Decision on a Miami-Dade case is expected soon, and there’s also a federal case going. Hard to keep track of them all …

  5. bryan says

    Today’s ruling by Judge Garcia in awarding a motion for Summary Judgment was the first in a line of victories expected in Florida. Unfortunately, as expected the Florida AG wasted no time in filing an appeal to the ruling http://tinyurl.com/psuoyge . The ruling on a similar case in Miami-Dade is expected any day. Four other cases in Florida pending as well so more to follow.

    Interesting note, Florida has a 3-day waiting period after obtaining a marriage license before couples can be married, unless they have attended a State approved premarital course, in which case the waiting period is waived. There is no residency requirement for a marriage license in Florida so couples from outside Monroe County could apply for a license if the appeal is denied.

  6. dixichuk says

    Filing the appeal will likely be a very positive action for same sex marriage. This ruling only applies to one of the 67 counties in FL. If upheld on appeal as most of the other states’ various rulings have been, then the remaining 66 counties would have a much stronger legal standing to file their own request to allow same sex marriages. This ruling applies to unmarried couples’ right to marry in FL. I believe the Broward County ruling will address recognizing marriages from other states. It’s hot down here in more ways that one this summer!!!

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