A fourth Florida judge, this time in Fort Lauderdale, ordered the state Monday to recognize same-sex marriage.
Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled in the case of a woman who wants to divorce her same-sex partner. The two women entered a civil union in Vermont in 2000, and Cohen ruled that the state must recognize Heather Brassner's relationship in order to end it.
"To discriminate based on sexual orientation, to deny families equality, to stigmatize children and spouses, to hold some couples less worthy of legal benefits than others based on their sexual orientation, is against all that this country holds dear, as it denies equal citizenship," Cohen said. "Marriage is a well recognized fundamental right, all people should be entitled to enjoy its benefits."
Two of the Florida judges have ordered the state to end its ban on same-sex marriage, and a third, like Cohen, has said the state must recognize marriages contracted in other jurisdictions. All the rulings are on hold pending appeal.
"It's what I was hoping to happen," Brassner, accompanied by her current partner, Jennifer Feagin, said. "Now, we get ready for the appeal, I guess."
Nancy Brodzki, Brassner's lawyer, said she is "confident" the state Supreme Court will strike down the ban on same-sex marriage.
"This was a big step forward for Broward," Brodzki said. "I think that it is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that the Florida Supreme Court will allow all of these cases to skip the Court of Appeals."