BREAKING: Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage, Issues Stay On Ruling

This is the federal case we’ve been waiting for.

Via the ACLU of Florida:

Today, a federal district court judge in Tallahassee held that Florida’s discriminatory marriage ban cannot be enforced in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. The ruling applies both to the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Florida and the recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples performed outside of the state.

The judge’s ruling comes as a result of two separate lawsuits including one brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida. The ACLU of Florida’s lawsuit challenges the ban on marriage recognition on behalf of eight married same-sex couples, a Ft. Myers woman whose wife recently passed away, and SAVE, the largest LGBT-rights organization in South Florida. The lawsuit with which the ACLU of Florida’s lawsuit has been consolidated was filed by Jacksonville attorneys William Sheppard and Samuel Jacobson on behalf of two couples—one seeking to get married and another seeking to have their marriage recognized in Florida.

“I am overjoyed that the state we made our home in will soon recognize that what Carol and I had was marriage,” stated Arlene Goldberg of Ft. Myers, a plaintiff whose wife and partner of 47 years, Carol Goldwasser, passed away.

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle held that by denying the plaintiffs fundamental right to marry, Florida’s marriage ban violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. He also held that the state’s rationale for denying recognition of the marriages not only had no rational basis, but would fail even a higher level of scrutiny, stating that “[t]he undeniable truth is that the Florida ban on same-sex marriage stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice,” and that “moral disapproval alone cannot sustain” a ban restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Judge Hinkle: “Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts. Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage.”

UPDATE: Read the full ruling.