Florida Gay Marriage/Divorce Update

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Same sex/GLBTA on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.

A Broward County circuit court judge overturned Florida’s same-sex marriage ban this week, in order to allow a same-sex divorce.

Heather Brassner, who has lived in Florida for years, formed a civil union in Vermont in 2002. They split up, and Brassner lost touch with her partner. She now has a new same-sex partner, and needs to get the civil union dissolved in order to marry. As Channel 10 news reports:

Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled that Florida must recognize Brassner’s Vermont civil union for purposes of dissolving it so that she can marry her girlfriend.

I’ve written about the string of federal decisions which have struck down bans against same-sex marriages, and Judge Cohen’s decision was the third state decision in Florida. The earlier decisions, however, solely ruled on whether a same-sex couple was entitled to marry in Florida.

Judge Cohen was the first to rule that an out-of-state civil union must be recognized by Florida so that the couple can divorce in Florida. The judge stayed his decision “pending the outcome of expected appeals on similar issues recently ruled on by courts in Monroe and Miami-Dade Counties”.

In 2008, Florida citizens voted to amend the Florida Constitution to say: “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

Just like those two prior rulings in Florida, Judge Cohen’s decision doesn’t mean marriage licenses will be issued right away. A stay is in place while the state appeals.