Miami-Dade County judge rules Fla. ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional

No wedding bells yet: Attorney General Pam Bondi likely to appeal ruling

MIAMI - A Miami-Dade County judge Friday overturned the Florida ban on same-sex marriage in a ruling that applies to Miami-Dade County.

Judge Sarah Zabel ordered Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

READ: Miami-Dade County Judge Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Monroe County Judge Luis M. Garcia issued a similar ruling involving a Key West couple last week.

Former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Zabel and Garcia, who were both re-elected. Their rulings found the same-sex marriage ban Florida voters approved in 2008 violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

"Preventing couples from marrying solely on the basis of their sexual orientation serves no governmental interest," Zabel said in the order. "It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of our fundamental institutions of our society."

After the Monroe County decision, Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a notice that she planned to appeal, triggering an automatic stay.

Bondi will likely file the same notice of intent for the Miami-Dade County ruling.

Zabel issued an immediate stay pending the outcome of the expected appeal.

A separate lawsuit is pending in Tallahassee federal court seeking to both overturn Florida's gay marriage ban and force the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Zabel cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a ban on interracial marriage in 1967.

She said in the order that "to deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the ... classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the state's citizens of liberty without due process of law."

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.