There are approximately 46,523 divorces filed each week in the United States, but one historic divorce in Florida last week has sparked renewed discussions about civil rights. The reason? It was the first formal divorce granted to a gay couple in Florida history.
The southern state has been locked in a debate over the constitutionality of its same-sex marriage ban since it was written into the constitution in 2008, much to the detriment of Heather Brassner and Megan Lade. Brassner pursued a divorce from her estranged partner for five years before Broward County Curcuit Judge Dale Cohen finally dissolved their civil union last week.
Cohen made waves in August when he ruled that Florida’s gay marriage ban violated the equal protection and due process guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. He joined several other judges across the state in declaring the ban unconstitutional.
So what does this mean for gay marriage in the state?
There’s still a ways to go before same-sex marriage licenses will be issued in Broward County. Nevertheless, the ruling will have wider ramifications; out-of-state gay marriages will have to be recognized in Florida now, for instance.
“This is a historic day,” Brassner’s attorney Nancy Brodzki told Wink News. “This is the first divorce for a same-sex couple. It will not be the last divorce.”
Brodzki suspects that Attorney General Pam Bondi will appeal the decision, as she has for many that rejected the gay marriage ban. So far Bondi hasn’t responded, likely because her office is fighting detractors of the same-sex marriage ban on several fronts.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle declared the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional as well, but Bondi filed an emergency petition to keep the ban in place until Jan. 5 to give her time to appeal the decision.
Bondi claims that striking down the ban would result in two sets of marriage laws and general confusion between different counties.