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The Statewide Implications Of The Monroe County Marriage Equality Ruling

Elvert Barnes

Same sex couples around the state stand to benefit from Thursday’s Monroe County court ruling that overturned Florida’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.Circuit Judge Luis Garcia decided in favor of a Key West couple who sued the state arguing the marriage ban approved by voters in 2008 violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The amendment defines marriage in Florida as a union between one man and one woman.
A second legal challenge brought by six same sex couples who were denied marriage licenses is currently pending before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zable.

A ruling in their favor would likely mean both cases will move to the 3rd District Court of Appeals.
Jacksonville attorney and gay rights advocate Jimmy Midyette says the decision there could be a real game changer for lesbian and gay couples statewide.
“The action by Judge Garcia is limited to Monroe County. The action that would be taken by Judge Zabel in Miami would be limited to Miami-Dade County. But, once this appeal gets up to the third DCA, whatever they decide would be binding on the whole state," Midyette said.

"So, if these cases get briefed up to the third DCA and (that court) rules in favor of same-sex marriage, that would effectively legalize same sex marriage in Florida.”
The Florida Attorney General appealed Judge Garcia’s decision in favor of same sex couples within hours of his ruling Thursday.
Barring a stay, gay and lesbian couples in Monroe County could be issued marriage licenses starting Tuesday.

You can follow Cyd Hoskinson on Twitter @cydwjctnews.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.