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

Outward
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

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.