Broward Judge Vacates Same-Sex Marriage Ruling - NBC 6 South Florida

Broward Judge Vacates Same-Sex Marriage Ruling



    Broward Judge Vacates Gay Marriage Ruling

    NBC 6's Justin Finch explains the technicality that forced a Broward County judge to temporarily vacate his ruling on gay marriage. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014)

    Broward County Judge Dale Cohen vacated his decision from July that found Florida’s gay-marriage ban was unconstitutional.

    “Really, this is just a speed bump along the way,” said attorney Nancy Brodski, who is representing Heather Brassner, one of the parties in the case.

    Judge Cohen vacated his decision saying, “the Petitioner, Heather Brassner, has failed to comply with [state law] by failing to notice the Office of the Attorney General of these proceedings by either registered or certified mail,” the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

    "Although we had given the Attorney General notice, and had had electronic communication, and had actually had telephonic communication, the statute requires us to send it certified mail," Brodski said.

    The judge’s decision was in a case related to a 2002 civil union in Vermont involving Brassner and Megan Lade. The two separated and Brassner wants a divorce so she can remarry, but Florida, where Brassner has lived for 14 years, doesn’t recognize the civil union.

    Complicating matters, Lade has disappeared seemingly without a trace, and hasn't been found, even with the help of a private investigator.

    Civil unions were officially dissolved in Vermont in 2009, when the state began allowing same-sex marriages. But the dissolution of the civil union is only allowed when both parties are available to sign the requisite forms.

    According to the Herald, Judge Cohen canceled a hearing to finalize the dissolution that was originally set for Wednesday, but said the parties can reschedule a hearing in the case. Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office told the Herald it will “monitor the case.”

    Bondi’s office didn’t intervene in the decision from Cohen. The Attorney General’s office has intervened in two other cases from South Florida in which two judges said Florida’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. A federal court has also ruled that Florida’s ban is unconstitutional.

    The cases where the Attorney General has intervened are currently on appeals. All decisions invalidating the same-sex ban are on hold until the appeals are completed.

    If Brassner’s divorce is granted, Attorney General Bondi’s office could move for an appeal. During the interim, a stay could be placed on the decision on the divorce.

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