Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Make That Four

Yet another court in Florida declares the state ban on marriage equality to be unconstitutional.

Following recent rulings from judges in three South Florida counties, a Palm Beach County Circuit judge this afternoon issued a ruling declaring Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Circuit Judge Diana Lewis’ opinion was tied to a probate case of Frank Bangor, 61, who died in Pennsylvania in March. W. Jason Simpson, Bangor’s partner of 37 years and the man he married in Delaware last year, petitioned the court to gain control of the Boynton Beach winter home the two shared.

Though Lewis declared that Florida’s marriage prohibitions “unnecessarily discriminate” against same-sex partners, her ruling — like those recently from her counterparts in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties — does not make gay marriage legal in Florida.

“People aren’t going to be able to line up tomorrow and get marriage licenses because of this, but it is important that they have declared this unconstitutional,” Andrew Fein, Simpson’s attorney, said of the ruling. “When something’s declared unconstitutional, it doesn’t just spring back into being right – at least not in this case.”

Under Florida law, a spouse is recognized as a personal representative of an estate provided the out-of-state marriage is recognized as valid under state law. Simpson petitioned Lewis to be recognized as Bangor’s personal representative despite the ban on gay marriage in Florida.

In her 12-page ruling, which comes a day after a Broward judge struck down Florida’s gay marriage ban in a decision regarding a West Palm Beach woman’s quest to divorce a woman she wed in a civil union in Vermont, Lewis said the bans “fail to pass constitutional muster.”

“Same-sex couples are entitled to respect, dignity and protection as any other spouse requesting to be a personal representative,” Lewis wrote.

We’ve already had three other courts rule the ban to be unconstitutional in Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Broward Counties.  Now add Palm Beach to the list.  We’re still awaiting the federal court ruling from Brenner-Grimsley case in Tallahassee.

This is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaking pipe in the ceiling.  At some point it’s all going to give way.

HT to Bob.