Second state judge finds Florida same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

Photo: Florida State Capitol. Credit: Stuart Seeger/flickr.

Photo: Florida State Capitol. Credit: Stuart Seeger/flickr.

A second state judge in as many weeks struck down Florida’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional in a ruling handed down Friday that only applies to Miami-Dade County.

Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel found Florida law prohibiting same-sex marriage violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and also offends “basic human dignity.”

“The flood of cases that have come out since Windsor amply demonstrates this truth as not one court has found a same-sex marriage ban to be constitutional,” Zabel wrote. “As case after case has come out, unified in their well-reasoned constitutional condemnation of the deprivation of one class of person’s right to marry, the answer to the question of whether it is constitutionally permissible to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry has become increasingly obvious: Of course it is not. Preventing couples from marrying solely on the basis of their sexual orientation serves no governmental interest. It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society.”

Zabel stayed her decision pending an expected appeal. The decision comes after another state judge found Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional last week in a decision that applied only to Monroe County. 

In her decision today, Zabel noted that the U.S. has a long history of minority groups, such as women and African-Americans, fighting against prejudice to achieve equality.

“Notably absent from this protracted march towards social justice was any progress for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community until quite recently,” she wrote. “However, as evidenced by the avalanche of court decisions unanimously favoring marriage equality, the dam that was denying justice on this front has been broken.” 

Florida Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruling

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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