MIAMI, July 25, 2014 — A second Florida judge has overturned the state’s same sex marriage ban, this time in Miami-Dade County.
Last week, Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled that the ban against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The Judge said it violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees due process and equal protection under the law.
At the time of Garcia’s ruling, he declared that marriage licenses could be issued to homosexual couples in Monroe County as early as Tuesday.
Immediately upon Judge Garcia’s ruling, Florida’s Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a notice of appeal. A notice of appeal automatically places a stay against a ruling, which in this case will prevent any same sex marriages from occurring until the conclusion of the extensive appeals process.
In response to the stay, the attorney for the gay couple that originally brought the case, Bernadette Restivo stated that she would file a motion requesting that the case go directly to the Florida Supreme Court. If this were to be granted, the verdict would affect the entire state and not only Monroe County.
Today’s ruling by Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel only applies to Miami-Dade County.
The Florida ban was put into place in 2008 after voters approved a state constitutional amendment.
Zabel agreed with Garcia, declaring that the ban was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.
Zabel also declared a stay on her decision to provide time for legal appeals.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year, over 20 court decisions have been decided in favor of same sex marriage.
Currently 19 states and the District of Columbia allow gay couples to marry.
The lower courts will continue to be a battleground over this issue until the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately makes the final ruling that all states will be forced to abide.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott is trying to walk a thin line in a notoriously divided state stating that he supports the amendment but opposes discrimination. His Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, supports same sex marriage.
Lawsuits have been filed in Orlando, Miami Beach and Key Biscayne looking to overturn the state amendment.
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