Gay Couples Can Now Get Married in Florida. But Only in the Keys.

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
July 17 2014 3:22 PM

Gay Couples Can Now Get Married in Florida. But Only in the Keys.

109448330-the-sun-sets-behind-the-old-railway-bridge-in-the-bahia
The wedding photos will be beautiful. The sun sets behind the old railway bridge in Florida's Bahia Honda State Park.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Florida Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia invalidated Florida’s gay marriage ban, holding that the state’s anti-gay constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution. Garcia’s tart 14-page opinion describes marriage as a fundamental right protected by the 14th Amendment’s due process clause—and finds that denying that right to gay people violates equal protection guarantees. Ignoring the “animus” behind the law and allowing the ban to stand, Garcia notes, would reduce the Constitution to “just a historical piece of paper.”

This is great news for those (like me) who lived through the trauma of Amendment 2, Florida’s version of Prop 8, and couldn’t imagine marriage equality reaching Florida before the middle of the century. But it’s not quite time to start celebrating—unless you happen to live in the Keys. As a circuit judge, Garcia’s jurisdiction is severely limited, and his ruling only applies to Monroe County, which stretches from the Everglades to the tip of the Keys. So while Key West should get the party started posthaste, mainland Floridians have little reason to cheer.

Advertisement

They will soon, though. The Monroe County lawsuit was one of three gay marriage lawsuits currently pending in the state, and marriage advocates are pretty confident they’ll win the other two. One of those cases found its way to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle’s docket. If Hinkle, a Clinton appointee, strikes down the ban, his ruling will apply to the whole state. At that point, the state’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, will have to decide whether to request a stay and appeal the ruling. Bondi, who has been married two or three times, has struggled mightily to find an anti-gay argument that passes the smirk test, and she may be tempted to abandon this whole debacle after Hinkle rules. That surrender, of course, would bring marriage equality to the sunshine state for good. 

Update, July 17, 2014: Bondi has now appealed the ruling and suggested that she will appeal any future pro-gay rulings as well.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.