A state judge found Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage in violation of the U.S. Constitution in a ruling handed down Thursday.
The decision by Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia, who was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and reelected in 2002 and 2008, marks the 25th consecutive ruling siding with marriage equality by a federal or state court in the past year, according to Freedom to Marry.
“This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual,” Garcia wrote. “This right these plaintiffs seek is not a new right, but is a right that these individuals have always been guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Societal norms and traditions have kept same-sex couples from marrying, like it kept some from voting until 1920 and forbid interracial marriage until 1967.”
Garcia’s ruling only applies to Monroe County, Florida, where clerks have been ordered to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples no sooner than July 22.
“This 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 the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” Garcia wrote. “All laws passed whether by the legislature or by popular support must pass the scrutiny of the United States Constitution, to do otherwise diminishes the Constitution to just a historical piece of paper.”
In the year since the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Windsor, which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between a man and a woman, marriage equality has not lost a single day in court. Federal courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Oregon, Wisconsin and Indiana. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed a lower court’s ruling that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. State courts in Arkansas, New Jersey, New Mexico and Colorado have also sided with marriage equality.