Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida’s Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge in Florida has struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, becoming the first federal judge to do so.

Four state judges have already issued rulings against Florida's gay marriage ban.

The AP reports:

FloridaU.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."

Equality on Trial adds that Judge Hinkle has issued a preliminary, statewide injuction preventing the state from enforcing the ban while the case moves forward. The decision is stayed pending Supreme Court action.

Read the ruling below:

Florida Preliminary Injunction via Equality Case Files


  1. Socalguy says

    a kinda logistical question… With all these federal judges ruling in our favor, would that sway the Justices in any way? Wouldn’t they look awful biased if they did rule against marriage equality? Or am I grasping here.

  2. Josh says

    @SOCALGUY Not necessarily biased, but Kennedy would look foolish for setting off the stampede of lower court desicions with his Windsor opinion only to douse the flame of equality in the final moment.

  3. stevej says

    With the setup of the current scotus and it’s preponderance for strict constitutionalism and states’ rights I fund it hard to believe they will take up the case of gay marriage again UNLESS there is a contrary decision. as long as we keep piling up the positive casesI feel that they will leave us alone and then eventually just drop all of the stays, their own and appeals both. The Virginia stay was worded to let it expire naturally if they don’t take up the case. Since that district is Roberts’ territory the wording of the stay struck me that they really do not want to touch it.

  4. ben~andy says

    Agreed @Josh. The reason we’ve won 38 to 1 [the lone TN judge dissents] is entirely based on Kennedy’s vote and opinion in the ruling on Windsor. That is what tossed Baker out the window as there WAS a federal question.

    Further, Kennedy’s ruling in Windsor set all of this up. That is what the judges in all these cases are reacting to. It doesn’t hurt that he’s being profoundly agreed with by so many judges in so many circuits. And not grudgingly, but rather enthusiastically.

    It is a dialogue and you see it in the citations of past cases. The law is not a static thing, it grows and develops. The only question is when the Supremes will take which case[s] and rule on them. I would assume that the man who wrote both Windsor and Lawrence v. Texas and showed his willingness to overturn a popularly voted on state constitutional amendment discriminating against gay people in Romer v. Evans [Colorado] will vote to uphold the lower court decisions [any and all of them] and since they ALL cite the constitution as the basis for their rulings, that will make it nationwide and even the places the US has jurisdiction over [Puerto Rico, Guam, USVI, etc].

    But, post Hobby Lobby and even post Citizens United, it cannot be clearly enough stated that the Supremes rule as at least 5 Supremes see fit. They rule on cases that at least 4 Supremes choose to review. That is really all that you can say with certainty.

  5. Randy says

    I particularly liked these parts, for their clarity and directness:

    So the right to marry is just as important when the proposed spouse is a person of the same race and different sex … or a person of a different race (as in Loving) … or a person of the same sex (as in the cases at bar).


    Indeed, defending the ban on same-sex marriage on the ground that the capacity to procreate is the essence of marriage is the kind of position that, in another context, might support a finding of pretext. It is the kind of argument that, in another context, might be “accompanied by a suspicion of mendacity.”


    There is no good reason to further deny Ms. Goldberg the simple human dignity of being listed on her spouse’s death certificate. Indeed, the state’s refusal to let that happen is a poignant illustration of the controversy that brings us here.

  6. ben~andy says

    @SteveJ, do you know how soon the Supremes would “have” to take any case? For instance, is there nothing to stop the Virginia stay being extended indefinitely by the Supremes and yet them not taking the case? My understanding is that until the Supremes rule, one way or the other, on an appealed case, that the case isn’t finally settled.

    @Randy, yes, a very well written and really quite simple decision that uses the Goldberg injury to great effect to illustrate the ongoing harm of the Florida law.

    I personally feel as this Judge seems to, as all of the other judges have [who ruled for us], that the same progressive 5 that came together to rule on Windsor will come again to rule on both state recognition of out of state marriages and to force all states to allow ssm.

    I also personally enjoy it whenever Scalia’s dissents are quoted, which I think is playing to Kennedy even more than when they quote him in the majority. lol

  7. RonCharles says

    Strictly from a tactical and logistical standpoint, it would be better if the Florida State Supreme Court were to overturn the ban on gay marriage and have the federal courts decline to hear the case further. The more states that really have gay marriage when this matter finally reaches the US Supreme Court, the more likely that court will be to rule marriage equality a constitutional right. What should be remembered is that when it does get to the US Supreme Court, we want to win!