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Friday, September 22, 2017

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Back in August, 2014, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle became the first federal judge to strike down Florida's gay marriage ban when he ordered the state to issue a new death certificate for Carol Goldwasser, naming Arlene Goldberg - her partner for 47 years - as her wife.

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Arlene Goldberg, left, and her Late

Wife Carol Goldwasser

On October 8, 2014, Goldberg recieved Goldwasser's newly issued death certificate, making her and her late spouse the first gay couple to have their marriage recognized in the Sunshine State.

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On Monday, October 6, 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the hotly contested issue of gay marriage, a surprise move that will allow gay men and women to marry in five states where same-sex weddings were previously banned.

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By rejecting appeals in cases involving Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana, the court also left intact lower-court rulings that struck down bans in North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado increasing the number of states with gay marriage in the United States from 19 to 30.

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On Tuesday, August 26, 2014 the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard two cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. There was a lot of speculation as to who would be on the three judge panel that would hear the case. Not long before the hearing began, we found out: Judges Ann Claire Williams, David Hamilton and Richard Posner. Williams and Hamilton were Clinton and Obama nominees respectively and were widely thought to be favorable to pro-equality arguments. Judge Posner, a Reagan nominee, was something of a wild-card. 

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However, during the oral argument before the Seventh Circuit, Judge Richard Posner shredded two states' defenses of their laws excluding gay couples from marriage.  Along with the two other judges on the panel, Ann Claire Williams and David Hamilton, he seems poised to strike down the marriage limitations on Equal Protection grounds. But Posner was the most tenacious and trenchant in his questioning of the states' lawyers, and was frequently amused by what he was hearing from the states.   Overnight, he's become a hero of the gay-marriage movement.

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A federal judge on Thursday, August 21, 2014 declared Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, joining state judges in four counties who have sided with gay couples wishing to tie the knot.  U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled that the ban added to Florida's constitution by voters in 2008 violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process.

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Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, meaning no marriage licenses will be immediately issued for gay couples.

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The wave started last summer in the Supreme Court. At 5-4, the high court's decision on United States v. Windsor wasn't unanimous. And it wasn't decisive: The federal government would now have to recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples, but the ruling did not overturn prohibitions on such legal unions within individual states. 

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Same-sex marriage is legally recognized in some jurisdictions within the United States and by the federal government. Nineteen states, the District of Columbia, and ten Native American tribal jurisdictions issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Several hundreds to thousands of marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Utah, Michigan, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Indiana between the time their bans were struck down by federal or state judges and when those rulings were stayed.