Although Florida saw great progress last month when District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, marriage equality and same-sex partnerships continue to be threatened by dissenting viewpoints. According to Freedom to Marry, Florida’s current status entails an “Anti-relationship recognition constitutional amendment; one federal judge and four separate judges in state court have ruled that the amendment is unconstitutional,” but that the motions to overturn the marriage ban are still pending.
Currently, same-sex marriage cases are working their way through the courts in Florida. Some judges, such as Hinkle, are clearly for marriage equality, but unfortunately his seems to remain the unpopular opinion. One example of the discrimination of same-sex couples lies in the unprecedented case of Mariama Monique Changamire Shaw and Keiba Lynn Shaw, a lesbian couple married in 2010 in Massachusetts that has been refused the right to divorce in Florida. In this particular case, the state’s Supreme Court has been asked to intervene. According to the Miami Herald, “The issue is whether Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage and the prohibition on recognizing such marriages ‘unconstitutionally limits various constitutional guaranties including full faith and credit [and] access to courts,’” of the complicated case.
According to the Sun Sentinel, “Most of the myriad same-sex marriage lawsuits that have made headlines over the past month have had significant updates in the last few days,” of slow progress being made towards achieving universal marriage equality. “But the Florida Supreme Court will ultimately have to decide the issue,” noting that even then, same-sex couples in Florida may have to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court decides.
Although marriage equality rulings are currently on hold in Florida, many have an optimistic outlook on the freedom to marry in the Sunshine State. Miami-based lawyer Kendall Coffey has previously speculated upon the inevitability of marriage equality, and Florida judges Luis Garcia, Sarah Zabel, Dale Cohen, and Hinkle are all standing up for marriage equality in the courtroom. Equality Florida, ACLU of Florida, and Freedom to Marry are all actively working for marriage equality in Florida and beyond, and the thousands of same-sex couples and their allies are not going to give up without a fight.
As Freedom to Marry eloquently expresses, “as the cases make their way up through the courts, Floridians across the state will continue to do the work of having conversations about why marriage matters and creating a climate for victory.”