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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Federal Court OK's Marriage in Florida

The ruling is stayed, pending appeal.  Freedom to Marry reports:
Today, August 21, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Florida, the first federal judge to strike down Florida's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. His ruling follows four previous state court rulings in favor of marriage for same-sex couples in Florida earlier this summer. . . .

Some excerpts from the ruling:
•The founders of this nation said in the preamble to the United States Constitution that a goal was to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. Liberty has come more slowly for some than for others. It was 1967, nearly two centuries after the Constitution was adopted, before the Supreme Court struck down state laws prohibiting interracial marriage, thus protecting the liberty of individuals whose chosen life partner was of a different race. Now, nearly 50 years later, the arguments supporting the ban on interracial marriage seem an obvious pretext for racism; it must be hard for those who were not then of age to understand just how sincerely those views were held. When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination. Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.

•Just one proffered justification for banning same-sex marriage warrants a further note. The defendants say the critical feature of marriage is the capacity to procreate. Same-sex couples, like opposite-sex couples and single individuals, can adopt, but same-sex couples cannot procreate. Neither can many opposite-sex couples. And many opposite-sex couples do not wish to procreate. Florida has never conditioned marriage on the desire or capacity to procreate.

•The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the fundamental right to marry. The Court applied the right to interracial marriage in 1967 despite state laws that were widespread and of long standing. Just last year the Court struck down a federal statute that prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully entered in other jurisdictions. The Florida provisions that prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages lawfully entered elsewhere, like the federal provision, are unconstitutional. So is the Florida ban on entering same-sex marriages.
The ruling is in Brenner v. Scott; full text here.  Or see Freedom to Marry's website for an updated (though hideously ugly) map of where marriage laws and rulings now stand.

Here's a great video of two of the plaintiffs in the case, Steve Schlairet and Ozzie Russ, who live in Chipley, a small town way to hell out in the backwoods middle of the Florida Panhandle:

In other news:
After a 10-hour public hearing that lasted into the wee hours, the Fayetteville, Arkansas, city council yesterday passed an LGBT rights ordinance 6-2. Joe.My.God. has a great clip of Mayor Lioneld Jordan's passionate defense of equality, inclusion, and diversity here: it's worth your time to hear a straight white Southern man speaking up for the gays.

And next door in Tennessee, Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville has also come out for marriage equality.

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