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Florida judge rules legal gay civil marriages do not have to be recognized

More bad news, but it’s a legal cloud with a silver lining. By ruling that the state doesn’t have to recognize gay marriages from, say, Massachusetts, it throws the whole legal battle into high gear on a federal level. The attorney in this case intends to take this to the Supreme Court. It’s a short term win for the wingnuts, but this challenge was inevitable. (AP via MSNBC):

In what is believed to be the first ruling of its kind, a judge on Wednesday upheld the federal law letting states ban same-sex marriages, dismissing a lawsuit by two women seeking to have their Massachusetts marriage recognized here. Attorneys for conservative groups hailed the ruling by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody as an important first step, but the plaintiffs promised to appeal.

This is a legal shot heard ‘round the world,” said attorney Ellis Rubin, who filed the lawsuit on the women’s behalf. “But we are not giving up. … This case is going to be resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court, and I have said that since the day I filed it.” Although several federal cases are challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, attorneys said Wednesday’s ruling was the first by a federal judge on a direct challenge to the law.

Moody sided with former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who argued in court filings that the government has a legitimate interest in allowing states to ban same-sex marriages, namely to encourage “stable relationships” for the rearing of children by both biological parents.

… Moody said he could not declare marriage a “fundamental right,” as the lawsuit urged him to do, and that he was bound to follow legal precedent. “The legislatures of individual states may decide to overturn its precedent and strike down” the law, Moody wrote. “But, until then, this court is constrained to hold (the law) and the Florida statutes … constitutionally valid.”

Yeah, media whore Minnery is commenting again.

Today we have witnessed a significant victory — for marriage and democracy,” said Tom Minnery of Focus on Family. The group is pushing for an amendment to the Constitution that would ban same-sex marriages.

“Unfortunately, at any time, marriage in any jurisdiction is only one judge away from being ruled unconstitutional.”

Last year, a federal bankruptcy judge in Washington state ruled the Defense of Marriage Act constitutional when a lesbian couple sought to file for bankruptcy as a heterosexual couple would. But that decision was not binding on other courts.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding