Broward Judge: Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

A Broward County judge has ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

Circuit Court Judge Dale Cohen issued the ruling Monday in the case related to a 2002 civil union in Vermont involving two women, Heather Brassner and Megan Lade.

"This court addresses the issues of liberty and equality and finds that without a rational relation to a legitimate state interest; Florida cannot impose inequality under the law," Judge Cohen said.

When Brassner and Lade were joined by the civil union, it was the only form of legal relationship afforded to same-sex couples in Vermont.

MORE: Brassner V. Lade Motion (PDF)

The two separated and Brassner wants a divorce so she can remarry, but the state of Florida, where Brassner has lived for the past 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.

"I'm just hoping we can put my past behind me as we proceed forward," said Brassner, "As Florida moves forward as well."

Dr. Eladio Jose Armesto of the Christian Family Coalition of Florida condemned the ruling.

"This unconstitutional ruling by a corrupt and lawless judge is a judicial lynching of the people of Florida," Dr. Armesto said. ",by denying them their 14th Amendment due process and and equal protection guarantees."

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.

Cohen is the third judge in less than a month to find the state ban unconstitutional, following Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel and Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia.

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