Fight to Legalize Gay Marriage Only Gets Hotter

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: August 23, 2014 3:55 AM
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It’s been nearly six years since Florida voters cast their ballots to ban same-sex marriage, but the battle for equality of marriage still rages on in the Sunshine State.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled the 2008 voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Hinkle is the fifth judge in Florida to rule the ban unconstitutional, but he made headlines for being the first federal judge to weigh in on the matter.

Hinkle compared prohibitions against gay marriage to bans on interracial marriage, which were overturned in the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia.

“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," Hinkle wrote Thursday.

The issue of same-sex marriage has been one that has continuously heated up in recent years. When Florida voters turned against the measure in 2008, only one state in the entire country -- Massachusetts -- had legalized gay marriage.

As time has gone on, however, several other states have joined in to legalize same-sex marriage, which is now allowed in 19 states from coast to coast. And If this summer’s rulings are any indicator, it appears gay couples might not be too far away from marrying in the Sunshine State.

Part of the intensity to legalize gay marriage comes from last year’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act by the U.S. Supreme Court, but adding fuel to the fire has has been a shift in ideologies sweeping the nation.

“There’s a generation shift occurring right now ... where, if you put the amendment on the ballot in 2014, I don’t know that it would pass,” Orlando lawyer Steven Kramer told Sunshine State News. “You’ve seen a number of cultural and social touchstones that have shifted the grounds upon which those ideas exist.”

Since DOMA was overturned, the courts have broadly ruled in favor of LGBT couples in cases across the country. According to same-sex rights group Freedom to Marry, there have been 38 court victories (only one loss) since June 2013.

But for the future of gay marriage in Florida, same-sex couples may have to look toward the nation’s highest court. Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a motion earlier this month in Miami’s 3rd District Court of Appeal to freeze two cases regarding the ban.

Bondi said the decision to legalize same-sex marriage needed to be decided by the Supreme Court to avoid wasting state money and judicial resources.

“Despite the vigorous policy and legal debates surrounding same-sex marriage, there is little disagreement about this: If the United States Supreme Court holds that states must sanction same-sex marriage, then Florida's contrary laws must fall," Bondi wrote in her motion.

Steve Kramer agreed the U.S. Supreme Court had final say on the state’s laws.

“I think we will see a decision from the federal appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court that really resolves the issues,” said Kramer. “But in the end, the only place where this can ultimately be decided is the U.S. Supreme Court.”

But for gay marriage advocates, each judge’s decision in their favor inch them one step closer to marrying. Some found comfort in Hinkle’s ruling as a sign their pathway to equality had become a little brighter. which quoted civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

“To paraphrase a civil rights leader from the age when interracial marriage was struck down, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice,” wrote Hinkle.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen via email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

Comments (16)

sarasota gal
12:44PM AUG 25TH 2014
Judges are supposed to uphold laws passed by the people, not legislate their own view from the bench. We have a lot of over-reaching judges who are pushing an unpopular immoral view to the detriment of all citizens. Part of their push is for financial benefits that cost all citizens and their actual record in the relationships they claim is pretty often short run. They are opposing God who established marriage between one man and one woman for life for the purpose of raising godly children to glorify Him. These judges hide their beliefs and values to get elected and need to be changed frequently until our laws are upheld.
Capt Tom
3:15PM AUG 26TH 2014
You don't have much of a grasp on the concepts of judicial review and Article III, do you?
10:55PM AUG 24TH 2014
Sorry. Wyllie.can not wim and every vote by a dem or ind for him, helps vader scott to buy another term.
5:24PM AUG 24TH 2014
Don't be fooled by Crist, vote for Adrian Wyllie.
Just as good as you
10:40AM AUG 25TH 2014
It isn't Christ who's doing the 'fooling'.

Rick "I invoke my 5th Amendment rights not to incriminate myself - 75 times" Scott is the one trying to do that ... AGAIN!
Just as good as you
10:54AM AUG 25TH 2014
Dang that 'auto-correct' changing Crist into 'Christ'.
Judy Belle
12:23PM AUG 23RD 2014
The 11th Circuit will slap this ruling down. And the supreme court will uphold the constitutional right for states to determine their own marriage laws. They so stated in Windsor. The homosexuals hope to get rulings from judges they know will rule their way, and then hope the state officials can be bribed to give up.
Just as good as you
10:54AM AUG 25TH 2014
You keep believing that, Judy. It's so cute.
Norman Walker
3:45PM AUG 23RD 2014
Marriage equality will soon prevail in all 50 states. This is a Constitutional issue, and the dozens of judges who have ruled in favor of equality are doing their jobs in upholding the Constitution of the United States of America. Just because some people have a homophobic bias, does not give them the right to limit the Constitutional rights of others. The bans are falling because they are unconstitutional, not because of "activist judges."
10:02AM AUG 23RD 2014
What good does it do to go and vote to not approve of homosexual's
being married,when you have all this "do gooder"liberal judges over turn
the law that was passed?
Romans 1v24
Marriage One Man-One Woman
Just as good as you
10:58AM AUG 25TH 2014
Re: "What good does it do to go and vote" ... to take away some other citizens' (formerly?) "UNALIENABLE" rights to liberty and the pursuit of THEIR happiness?

It does NO "good" whatsoever, Joanne. It's quite Un-American.

I'll see your "Romans" and raise you two 'Americans'.

Sally 24:69
Irving 7:11

America is NOT a theocracy. Don't you have some little brown kids you need to yell at?
10:58PM AUG 23RD 2014
The Federal Judge that Overtunred Prop 8 was Appionted by Good Ol' Ronny boy,What's your point?
11:11AM AUG 23RD 2014
Gee . . . . I seem to remember very similar rightwing quotes and logic supporting hateful state laws outlawing interracial marriages in the 1950's . . . . . clearly, this type of hateful, demonizing ideology will increasingly be exposed for what it is and will increasingly become known as "an obvious pretext for discrimination" . . . . . which is what it is . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Sherryl Huseonica
9:45AM AUG 23RD 2014
This is not about "equal rights" or "marriage equality". This is about actually changing the definition of marriage entirely. For millennia and throughout most civilizations, the word "marriage" has meant the joining of a man and a woman into a committed union which usually produces offspring and the term we have known as "family". Sex among same sex people has also been around probably for just as long a time, but was never intended to unite a couple who would produce offspring. Have times changed?.....definitely! Does that make it right?...not to our society as a whole, only to those who are pushing it for their own agenda. Our society norms are now being changed and defined by a very small minority of people, instead of the majority who have voted to keep the definition of marriage as it has always and woman. And the minority spews vitriolic hate towards those who don't agree with them and their choices.
10:57PM AUG 23RD 2014
Right of minority cannot be put to a vote of tyrannical majority,To quote Ben Franklin." Democracy is two wolves and a a lamb taking a vote on who's gonna be dinner. Liberty is well armed lamb willing to contest the results.
Chris Smyth
4:49AM AUG 23RD 2014
Bondi says: "...the decision to legalize same-sex marriage needs to be decided by the Supreme Court to avoid wasting state money and judicial resources..."
I say that every citizen has a right to their day in court. It's inappropriate for the state attorney general to ask ANY judge to withhold that right because it's costing her office too much money or using up too much of the court's time. I'm sure these cases are costing the plaintiffs a lot of money and using up a lot of their time, too. For better or worse, that's how justice is done in this country.

Bondi publicly supports Amendment 2. She should have the courage of her convictions and argue her case in court at every opportunity. Perhaps she's beginning to realize that she's on the wrong side of this issue, both politically and legally.

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