On August 21st, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge, Robert L. Hinkle, in the case of Brenner v. Scott, ruled that Florida’s constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Same-sex couples were able to marry across the State of Florida beginning yesterday, the day that Judge Hinkle’s stay was lifted. The case is now on appeal with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which presides over Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. To the extent the 11th Circuit hears this case and rules in favor of Judge Hinkle’s holding, same-sex marriage could become legal in both Alabama and Georgia, two of the 14 states that still do not recognize same-sex marriage. The 4th, 7th, 9th, and 10th Circuits have already ruled that any bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, thereby legalizing same-sex marriage in the states that each of these Circuit Courts preside over.
This case is a huge win for same-sex couples, especially for the many same-sex spouses that live in New York and wish to relocate to Florida. Prior to this ruling, these couples faced many legal challenges, including, but not limited to, legal issues with intestacy, parenting, and adoption. These couples can now have peace of mind as they move forward to become “snowbirds.”