After a series of state district courts in Florida ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, a federal District Court judge came to the same determination today.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled today that the Florida ban violates the “due process” and “equal protection” provisions in the U.S. Constitution. The state’s ban was first put into law in 1977 and then written into the state’s constitution after a 2008 referendum. Judge Hinkle’s ruling applies both to whether same-sex couples can marry in Florida as well as whether their marriages elsewhere should be recognized in the Sunshine State.
In his ruling, Hinkle writes,
The founders of this nation said in the preamble to the United States Constitution that a goal was to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. Liberty has come more slowly for some than for others. It was 1967, nearly two centuries after the Constitution was adopted, before the Supreme Court struck down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, thus protecting the liberty of individuals whose chosen life partner was of a different race. Now, nearly 50 years later, the arguments supporting the ban on interracial marriage seem an obvious pretext for racism; it must be hard for those who were not then of age to understand just how sincerely those views were held. 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. Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.
He also writes, “The Florida provisions that prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully entered elsewhere, like the federal provision, are unconstitutional. So is the Florida ban on entering same-sex marriages.”
Hinkle’s immediately stayed his ruling pending a likely appeal.