The Gaily News: Federal judge declares Florida's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional

A federal judge in Tallahassee ruled Thursday that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s ruling overturns Amendment 2, which prohibits same-sex marriage in the Sunshine State and was approved by voters in 2008.

Like the four state judges who ruled in the favor of marriage equality earlier this summer, Hinkle immediately stayed his decision pending appeals.

In his 33-page ruling, he wrote:

When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination ... To paraphrase a civil rights leader from the age when interracial marriage was struck down, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.

Following Hinkle’s decision, the state’s Attorney General Pam Bondi said she’s just doing her job by defending Florida’s ban on gay marriage.

Speaking to Republican activists in Palm Beach, she said:

I took an oath to defend the constitution of the state of Florida. Six years ago, by over 62 percent of the vote, the voters of this state put [the ban on same-sex marriage] into our constitution. That is part of the constitution which I am sworn to uphold.

She also said a decision on same-sex marriage needs to be made by the U.S. Supreme Court, adding:

This needs to be decided by the United States Supreme Court. They have accepted cert. We want finality. There are good people on both sides. We want finality. That’s what we need. The U.S. Supreme Court’s going to hear this. They are going to make this determination. And if you hear that I have criticized people personally, I have not. I never will. This is me doing my job as attorney general and I will continue to do that and if anybody wants me to moderate my message or stand for less, I have a message for them: I am just getting started.

A new study from UCLA’s Williams Institute says that legalizing same-sex marriage in Florida would significantly boost the state's economy. According to the report, marriage equality could potentially bring $182 million into the state within three years. The study also said that of the state’s nearly 50,000 same-sex couples, more than 24,000 would wed in those first three years.