Marriage equality updates in Florida, Utah

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Florida may be setting a record for the state with the most court rulings against its same-sex marriage ban in the shortest amount of time. On August 5, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Diana Lewis overruled the state’s constitutional amendment against marriage equality, though her decision also applies only to this single case.

It is expected that Florida’s attorney general, Republican Pam Bondi, will appeal the decision.

According to the Miami Herald, Lewis ruled that W. Jason Simpson must be appointed the personal representative of his late husband Frank Bangor’s estate. The couple, who had been together for thirty-seven years, married in Delaware in October 2013.

In her ruling, Lewis wrote, “There is no justification in denying Mr. Simpson the privilege of acting as the fiduciary, based solely on the gender and sexual orientation of his now-deceased spouse.”

The first decision against Florida’s ban on marriage equality was on July 17, followed by rulings on July 25 and August 4. All four of the decisions made thus far apply only to the counties in which the judges have jurisdiction, and have been stayed pending appeals.

Meanwhile, Utah has filed an appeal of the ruling against its ban on marriage equality, directly to the US Supreme Court.

Officials in the state had announced in July 2014, after a federal judge upheld the ruling that Utah’s ban was discriminatory and thus unconstitutional, that they would skip the usual step of asking for their case to be reviewed in a state appeals court. The move makes Utah the first state to ask Supreme Court judges to hear their case since the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down in June 2013.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Utah officials stated in the appeal that the “immensely important” and unanswered question that the Supreme Court must address is whether or not the oft-cited 14th Amendment genuinely forbids bans on marriage equality.

The lead attorney for the three gay couples that brought the suit against Utah, Peggy Tomsic, released a statement that said they “vehemently disagree with the notion that states can deny one of the most foundational rights to the millions of same-sex couples living across this great land.”

429Magazine

[Edited to clarify facts in the Palm Beach case.]

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