Second Florida judge rules in state’s marriage ban unconstitutional

Today, July 25, a judge in Miami-Dade County state court struck down Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, marking the 28th consecutive ruling in favor of the freedom to marry (with no rulings against) since June 2013. See all of the marriage wins in court here.

The ruling in today's Pareto v. Ruvin, from Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel, comes just over one week after a similar decision in Huntsman v. Heavilin, in which Monroe County Circuit Judge Garcia ruled that the state's law banning same-sex couples from marrying is unconstitutional. Today's ruling was immediately stayed, and the decision in Huntsman was stayed before it took effect. Both decisions have been appealed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. 

Judge Zabel ordered the Miami-Dade County clerks to stop enforcing Florida's anti-marriage constitutional amendment, and for now, the ruling only applies to Miami-Dade County. The ruling does not require the state of Florida to respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. 

In her ruling, Judge Zabel writes:

The flood of cases that have come out since Windsor amply demonstrates this truth as not one court has found a same-sex marriage ban to be constitutional. As case after case has come out, unified in their well-reasoned constitutional condemnation of the deprivation of one class of person’s right to marry, the answer to the question of whether it is constitutionally permissible to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry has become increasingly obvious: Of course it is not.

Preventing couples from marrying solely on the basis of their sexual orientation serves no governmental interest. It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society.

Read the full ruling here

Freedom to Marry applauds those who brought forth today's case, which was filed this year by the Equality Florida Institute on behalf of same-sex couples in Florida. They are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Mary B. Meeks, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Freedom to Marry's National Campaign Director Marc Solomon applauded the ruling today. He said:

Today Judge Zabel joins a chorus of judges from all across the nation, including another judge in Florida, who have found that bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional," said Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director. "The plaintiffs in this case want what all couples want: the freedom to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and protect their families – a protection that only marriage can provide. Majorities of Americans in Florida and across the country support the freedom to marry. Today's decision further highlights how out of step Sen. Marco Rubio is, with growing numbers in his own party, a strong majority of Floridians, and now increasingly the Florida courts.

For information on all 75+ marriage cases currently working their way through state and federal court in 32 different states and territories, visit our Marriage Litigation resource.