3rd Florida court strikes down amendment barring same-sex marriage

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A third circuit court in Florida has struck down the state's constitutional amendment denying recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages and barring gay couples from marrying within the state.

The ruling on Aug. 4 came from Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen, who said the amendment is unconstitutional. The decision applies only to Broward County.

Cohen is the third judge to rule against the state ban since early July.
Said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, "Every win in court brings us closer than we’ve ever been to the freedom to marry in Florida. We look forward to the day when all loving, committed couples and their families enjoy the same protections, opportunities and responsibilities of marriage under the law.  Every passing day inflicts real hardships on families who are denied the legal protection and dignity that marriage equality provides."

Cohen's ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Heather Brassner, who had entered into a civil union in Vermont and sought a divorce in Florida. The judge had indicated that he was not prepared to grant the divorce without addressing the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage ban — and the same-sex marriage recognition ban, according to Nancy Brodzki, Brassner’s attorney.

So Brodzki filed a motion for the judge to rule on the amendment.

The judge issued an immediate stay on his ruling, which means same-sex couples cannot marry in Broward County.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed the judges’ decision in the Miami-Dade and Monroe County cases and is expected to appeal the Broward decision as well.
Last week, Equality Florida delivered more than 7,000 petitions to Bondi’s office, calling on the attorney general to drop her appeals. Similar campaigns are being developed in South Carolina and Wisconsin.