NewsPublic AffairsRace & Gender / July 17, 2014

Florida Court Overturns State's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

NPR
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Florida Court Overturns State's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

A judge in Florida overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage on Thursday

The ban had been approved by 62 percent of voters in 2008.

"The 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 rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority," Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia wrote in his opinion.

His decision applies only to Monroe County, which includes Key West. Gay couples there will be able to marry next Tuesday, Garcia having allowed county clerks a few days to prepare.

A similar case is pending in Miami-Dade County.

"We can now add Florida's voice to the urgent need for the Supreme Court to take a freedom to marry case and bring the entire country to national resolution, ending marriage discrimination across America," Evan Wolfson, a prominent same-sex marriage advocate, said in a statement.

Attorneys for the state had argued that the will of the voters should be respected.

"Memorializing the natural definition of marriage into our law is not sexual discrimination, any more than requiring young people to wait until they are 16 before they can engage in intimate sexual relations is age discrimination," Mat Staver, an attorney representing groups that favored the state's existing marriage law, had argued at a court hearing. "Both are about protecting children and society."

But Garcia concluded that "a citizen's right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual."

His decision was the latest in a series of more than 20 victories for same-sex marriage supporters since the Supreme Court ruled on the question last year. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Kentucky struck down that state's ban on gay marriage.

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