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First Federal Judge In Florida Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban

Wilson Sayre

  A federal judge in Tallahassee has ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, the 16th state to do so.

This is the first federal ruling to come out of Florida, but like the four state district judges who have ruled on the constitutionality of the ban, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle immediately stayed his decision.

The ruling comes after eight same-sex couples sued top state officials including Gov. Rick Scott and State Attorney Pam Bondi for not recognizing their marriages officiated outside of the state.

"When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage," writes Judge Hinkle in his decision, "will seem an obvious pretext for discrimination. Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.”

Christian Ulvert and his partner Carlos Andrade were two of the plaintiffs in the suit. They got married in Washington, D.C. a year ago. To them, the moment is bittersweet.

“It’s a great day when we see justice prevail,” Ulvert says. “What we have seen from a federal judge today is that in Florida, equal rights is the way of life here. Unfortunately though…we don’t see this impact felt tomorrow or the days after.”

Pam Bondi is expected to appeal the decision to the 11th Circuit of Appeals.

The one exception to the stay is for Arlene Goldberg of Fort Meyers. Her partner of 47 years passed away earlier this year. She was suing to have her partner's social security benefits extended to her as she cared for her aging in-laws.

The Supreme Court is expected to take one or more of the cases when their next session starts in October.