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MIAMI A judge in the Florida Keys overturned the state's constitutional ban on same sex marriage on Thursday after a legal challenge by gay couples said it effectively made them second class citizens.

"The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same sex marriage, but it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority," Garcia wrote in his decision. "Whether it is . Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year, although those rulings remain in various stages of appeal. Supreme Court may ultimately have to decide the question for all states.

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The ruling by Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia applies only to Monroe County, which primarily consists of the Keys, and will certainly be appealed. The lawsuit contended that the same sex marriage ban New Balance 996 Light Grey

"The people of the state have the right to decide," Verdugo said.

´╗┐Judge overturns Florida's constitutional ban on gay marriage

approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 violated the federal 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. The judge said licenses could not be issued until Tuesday at the earliest. The Florida amendment defined marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman.

Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same sex marriage.

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Supporters of the gay marriage ban focused mainly on the 2008 referendum vote rather than whether same sex marriages were harmful or beneficial. Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the Christian Family Coalition, said it was wrong for a single judge to overrule the will of a majority vote.

"That inequality stigmatizes the couples and their children as second class citizens," attorney Sylvia Walbolt said. "Same sex marriages are completely beneficial. They are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution."

Florida in 1977 became the only state that prohibited all gay people from adopting children. A state court judge threw out the law in 2008 when she found "no rational basis" for the ban when she approved the adoption of two young brothers by Martin Gill and his male partner. The state decided two years later not to appeal that ruling, making gay adoption legal.

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Florida has long been a battleground over gay rights. In the 1970s, singer and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant led a successful campaign to overturn a Dade County ordinance that banned discrimination against gays. The county commission reinstated the ban two decades later.

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New Balance 3000v2 Baseball Cleats

"The people of the state have the right to decide," Verdugo said.

MIAMI A judge in the Florida Keys overturned the state's constitutional ban New Balance 574 Blue Grey

Along with the similar lawsuit pending in Miami Dade, a separate lawsuit is pending in a federal court in Tallahassee seeking to force Florida to allow gay marriage and recognize same sex marriages performed in other states.

During a recent hearing on a related Florida case in Miami Dade County, attorneys for gay couples noted that, after a long legal fight, the state finally allowed them to adopt children but refused to recognize them as married.

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Attorneys for gay couples and the state of Florida are squaring off at a hearing on a lawsuit challenging Florida's constitutional ban on same sex marriage. Like others filed across the country, the lawsuit contends the gay marriage ban added by voters to the state constitution is discriminatory and violates equal protection guarantees.

The ruling by Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia applies only to Monroe County, which primarily consists of the Keys, and will certainly be appealed. The lawsuit contended that the same sex marriage ban approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 violated the federal 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. The judge said licenses could not be issued until Tuesday at the earliest. The Florida amendment defined marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman.

During a recent hearing on a related Florida case in Miami Dade County, attorneys for gay couples noted that, after a long legal fight, the state finally allowed them to adopt children but refused to recognize them as married.

Florida in 1977 became the only state that prohibited all gay people from adopting children. A state court judge threw out the law in 2008 when she found "no rational basis" for the ban when she approved the adoption of two young brothers by Martin Gill and his male partner. The state decided two years later not to appeal that ruling, making gay adoption legal.

Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same sex marriage.

Along with the similar lawsuit pending in Miami Dade, a separate lawsuit is pending in a federal court in Tallahassee seeking to force New Balance 3000v2 Baseball Cleats Florida to allow gay marriage and recognize same sex marriages performed in other states.

New Balance 3000v2 Baseball Cleats

Supporters of the gay marriage ban focused mainly on the 2008 referendum vote rather than whether same sex marriages were harmful or beneficial. Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the Christian Family Coalition, said it was wrong for a single judge to overrule the will of a majority vote.

on same sex marriage on Thursday after a legal challenge by New Balance 574 Womens Navy

"That inequality stigmatizes the couples and their children as second class citizens," attorney Sylvia Walbolt said. "Same sex marriages are completely beneficial. They are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution."

Florida has long been a battleground over gay rights. In the 1970s, singer and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant led a successful campaign to overturn a Dade County ordinance that banned discrimination against gays. The county commission reinstated the ban two decades later.

gay couples said it effectively made them second class citizens.

"The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same sex marriage, but it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority," Garcia wrote in his decision. "Whether it is . Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year, although those rulings remain in various stages of appeal. Supreme Court may ultimately have to decide the question for all states.

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