U. S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in Florida on August 21.

Hinkle stated that the ban, first put into law in 1977 and written into the state’s constitution in 2008, violates the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection and due process.

This ruling applies to both same-sex couples marrying in Florida as well as couples married in other states. The judge’s ruling came after 22 individuals and nine same-sex married couples sued Florida to recognize their marriage or grant marriage licenses.

Cliff Ellis, co-president of the FSC Allies club, believes the judge made a practical decision.

[pullquote]“It was very encouraging to hear that steps are being made toward allowing gay marriage in Florida,”[/pullquote] “It was very encouraging to hear that steps are being made toward allowing gay marriage in Florida,” Ellis said. “The judge’s decision to strike down the ban on same-sex marriage is practical and logical.”

The judge also issued a stay pending appeal, which means that no marriage licenses are being issued immediately for couples. If no one appeals the strike down by September 21, couples could get married starting September 22.

Ellis believes that until that time, the gay community should promote same-sex marriage.

“Now is the time that the gay community should unite and be proactive in promoting awareness about the benefits for same-sex marriage, as well as how it can benefit local communities in Florida,” Ellis said.

Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community in Florida. They have started an Internet campaign asking people to contact Gov. Rick Scott and demand he not influence the politicians looking to appeal the court’s ruling.

Florida same-sex couples have also had troubles getting divorces in the past because of this ban. If no one appeals and the ban is lifted, this could give couples access to getting a legal divorce.

Ellis believes there should be steps that heterosexual and homosexual couples take in order to obtain a divorce.

“I think that there should be steps homosexual and heterosexual couples must take to prevent divorce,” Ellis said. “Counseling for all couples interested in getting married should be a prerequisite before obtaining a marriage license.”

For the next 18 days, Equality Florida has pledged to spread its beliefs on same sex marriage all over the state of Florida. The organization will be appearing at festivals, parades and in city halls.

Ellis believes marriage equality will be a good thing for the state of Florida.

“Marriage equality is across the board. Monogamous homosexual couples should be afforded the same opportunities, benefits, and privileges that monogamous heterosexual couples are afforded,” Ellis said. “Marriage equality for the state of Florida is due and can be looked at as a gift for a monogamous covenant of two people”.