Yesterday U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled against Florida’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, making the Sunshine State the latest to see such a ban struck down in federal court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June. In Brenner v. Scott, the private attorneys sued the state on behalf of same-sex couples who argue that Florida’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. In his ruling, Judge Hinkle wrote, “Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts. Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage. Tolerating views with which one disagrees is a hallmark of civilized society.” Judge Hinkle stayed his ruling while the case is on appeal, but ordered the state to immediately recognize the marriage of a woman whose wife passed away and wishes to be listed as the legal spouse on her deceased wife’s death certificate.
“Florida’s committed and loving gay and lesbian couples deserve the right to legally marry in the state they call home,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Judge Hinkle’s ruling today is consistent with 20 other consecutive federal court decisions over the last year that have said state bans on marriage equality violate the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution. These discriminatory bans only serve to harm LGBT families, and they should be erased from our nation’s laws once and for all.”
Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida, released the following statement after the ruling yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that Florida’s discriminatory state ban excluding same-sex couples from the freedom to marry is unconstitutional. The ruling has already been stayed, meaning that any decision won’t go into effect immediately.
Today is the 5th consecutive victory in Florida and leaves no doubt that this ban serves no purpose but to harm gay couples and their children. We applaud Judge Hinkle for his decision and we call on Governor Scott to lead where Attorney General Pam Bondi has failed.
Florida put this discriminatory ban in place and Florida should end it. Our families have waited too long already. We call on Governor Scott to join us in urging the Florida Supreme Court to take up this issue immediately.
In total, 38 rulings since last year’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor have found that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional, including two rulings by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Colorado.
We are asking Floridians to call Governor Rick Scott today at (850) 488-7146 and tell him to make clear where he stands by joining our call to end this discriminatory ban once for all.