Momentum builds in Florida: 4th Florida judge rules in favor of marriage

Yesterday, August 5, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, making her the fourth state judge in 3 weeks to strike down Florida's ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

The case was In Re Estate of Bangor and was filed earlier this year by W. Jason Simpson, a widower whose husband, Frank Bangor, passed away in March 2014 in Pennsylvania. The couple legally married in Delaware, and when Frank passed away, he left his entire estate, including property he owned in Palm Beach County, Florida, to his husband. Because of Florida law restricting marriage to different-sex couples, Simpson could not inherit the property in Palm Beach County he had been left. The men had been together for 37 years.

With Judge Lewis' ruling, Simpson will now be included as a personal representative in his husband's estate, and furthermore, declared that Florida's law denying respect to legally married same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

The ruling declares:

Florida's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally impair Mr. Bangor's right to choose his personal representative, and Mr. Simpson's right to so act, not because of who they are married to, but only because of who they were married to, prior to Mr. Bangor's death. There is no justification in denying Mr. Simpson the privilege of acting as the fiduciary, based solely on the gender and sexual orientation of his now-deceased spouse. Same-sex couples are entitled to respect, dignity and protection as any other spouse requesting to be a Personal Representative.

Read the full ruling here

The limited ruling follows three other decisions in recent weeks - out of Monroe County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County. Overall, it is the 36th consecutive ruling in favor of the freedom to marry since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States last June. See all of the marriage wins HERE.

Freedom to Marry applauds the legal team, Boca Raton attorney Andrew ‘Drew’ Fein, on this win. For information on the nearly 80 marriage cases currently working their way through state and federal court in 32 different states and territories, visit our Marriage Litigation resource