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Broward County judge issues ruling on gay-marriage ban

Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, Broward judge rules

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BROWARD, Fla. – Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled Monday that Florida's ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

Cohen also ruled Monday that out-of state gay marriages should be recognized.

The judge had ruled Aug. 4 that Florida's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional and he vacated his own order in September.

Cohen is the third judge to declare the ban unconstitutional. Florida voters passed the ban in 2008.

DOCUMENT | Read Broward Judge Dale Cohen's order

HEARTBREAK AND LOVE

The case of Heather Brassner and Megan E. Lade prompted the Broward County court's ruling Monday.

Heather Brassner challenged Florida's same-sex marriage ban. Brassner, who entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2002, has lived in Florida for 14 years.
Heather Brassner challenged Florida's same-sex marriage ban. Brassner, who entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2002, has lived in Florida for 14 years.

The two women were joined in a same-sex civil union July 6, 2002, in Vermont. About 12 years later, Brassner was asking Vermont to dissolve the civil union, but they require both parties to agree, and Lade was nowhere to be found.

Brassner, who has lived in South Florida for 14 years, is now in love with Jennifer Feagin. They have been in a relationship for about 4 years, and she wants to get married again.

Brassner's attorney Nancy Brodzki filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in Broward. Brassner needed the court to recognize her out-of-state civil union.

Cohen's ruling said the court would recognize the Vermont civil union and added that "Florida's ban on same-sex marriage violates the guarantees of due process and equal protection under the laws."

The ruling, Cohen added, is "based solely on the law, independent of bias, personal feelings or beliefs."


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