Miami judge strikes down same-sex marriage ban



MIAMI - A major court ruling could be another signal of historic cultural change in Florida.

A second South Florida judge declared the state ban on gay marriage unconstitutional Friday, and ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to wed.

The decision was quickly appealed by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The 36-page, strongly worded order from Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel came down at 5:30 p.m. in favor of a half dozen gay couples who sued the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts for the right to marry.

Zabel ruled that the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

“It’s a great day and we certainly look forward, hopefully very soon, to the day that all those couples can get married in Florida,” said Orlando attorney Mary Meeks, who represents the six gay couples who sued.

In the order, Zabel highlighted the oppression created by slavery and segregation and wrote, “Notably absent from this protracted march toward social justice was any progress for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community until quite recently.”

Earlier this month, a circuit judge in Monroe County also ruled the ban is unconstitutional, but Bondi appealed that ruling as well.

“We don’t think that she’s upholding her oath of office which was to defend the constitution, which a judge now says this ban violates the constitution,” said Michael Farmer with Equality Florida.

Zabel immediately stayed her opinion, knowing that both cases must be heard by the Florida Supreme Court.

That decision could take months.

State Rep. Linda Stewart issued a statement after the ruling saying Bondi shouldn’t spend tax dollars on appeals.