Breaking: Third Florida judge rules same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

A Florida judge ruled today the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional—the third such ruling in as many weeks.

Broward County Judge Dale Cohen made the ruling today as part of a same-sex couple divorce case.

From the Broward Palm Beach New Times:

Cohen had been presiding over a same-sex couple’s divorce. The couple were not married in Florida, but the court needed to recognize the relationship as an out-of-state civil union in order to grant a divorce. This meant Cohen had to weigh in on Florida’s same-sex marriage ban.

One of the parties in the couple, Heather Brassner, had been seeking a divorce from Megan Lade. The two were married in Vermont in 2002, but soon

But after the separation, Lade disappeared. Brassner hired a private eye to track Lade down, but that was unsuccessful.

Brassner then decided to file for divorce in absentia.

In order for the divorce to be official, Cohen had to declare the ban unconstitutional, in order for Brassner to get a lawful divorce.

“Every win in court brings us closer than we’ve ever been to the freedom to marry in Florida,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, in a statement. “We look forward to the day when all loving, committed couples and their families enjoy the same protections, opportunities and responsibilities of marriage under the law. Every passing day inflicts real hardships on families who are denied the legal protection and dignity that marriage equality provides.”

An immediate stay was put on marriages pending the outcome of an appeal.

Cohen’s ruling comes on the heels of Miami Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court who ruled July 25 a same-sex marriage ban cannot be upheld constitutionally after the 2013 Miami Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates the 14th amendment.

On July 17, Monroe Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled the same-sex marriage ban, put into place in 2008, was unconstitutional, thereby paving the way for a Key West couple to marry.