A Republican judge in the Florida Keys has overturned the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage after a legal challenge was brought by six same-sex couples who claimed the ban made them second-class citizens.
The ruling only applies to Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia’s county which consists of the Keys, and while it’s already been appealed, it’s a big step for the conservative state.
“It is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” wrote Garcia, in his decision.
“The Constitution guarantees and protects all of its citizens from government interference with those rights. All laws passed by the legislature or by popular support must pass the scrutiny of the United States Constitution, to do otherwise diminishes the Constitution to just a historical piece of paper.”
In 2008, Florida residents voted for a ban on same-sex marriage, and Judge Garcia’s ruling deems that ban unconstitutional. Licenses could have begun being issued starting Tuesday had Attorney General Pam Bondi’s immediate notice of appeal not included an automatic stay.
Former Florida Republican Governor and current Florida Democratic Gubernatorial candidate praised the ruling, taking to Twitter to show his support:
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) July 17, 2014
Two additional challenges are pending in a federal court in Tallahassee seeking to force the state to recognize same-sex marriage.