Federal judge strikes down Florida's voter-approved gay marriage ban

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Florida's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, but stayed his ruling pending appeals.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle's decision notes that specifically the 2008 voter-approved ban stepped on gay couples' 14th Amendment rights, the Florida Times-Union reports. As has become almost customary in gay marriage cases, the judge stayed the decision to allow for appeal.

And it will likely come as state Attorney General Pam Bondi has previously appealed several lower Florida judges' rulings that also found the ban to be unconstitutional.

In his decision, USA Today notes, Hinkle 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.

Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.

Hinkle's ruling comes just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay in Virginia and less than a day ahead of when the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision would have gone into effect.

At this point, nearly every court where a state ban on gay marriage was argued has come back in favor of the plaintiff, with the exception of Tennessee. The Supreme Court will almost surely have to eventually decide, but for the moment seems willing to watch quietly and see how the lower courts side.

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