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Gay Marriage To Become Law In Florida, Bishops Bitterly Disappointed

A judicial hold barring same-sex marriage is set to expire midnight on Monday, making Florida the 36th state in the union to legalize gay marriage, NBC News reports.

With Florida in the bag, the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage is legal will amount to 70 percent. “The overwhelming tidal wave of court rulings over the last year has put America on the cusp of nationwide marriage equality,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

Gay marriage has seen a surge in legal acceptance across the nation in the last few years. As recent as one year ago, gay marriage was only legal in 16 states, but opposition has crumbled against increasing pressure from LGBT advocacy organizations.

Two separate issues are at hand in Florida. First, the stay preventing gay marriage in Miami-Dade County has been lifted by Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel as of Monday morning, and so marriage licenses have been issued starting at 2 p.m. As a result of this decision, gay marriages outside of Florida will also be recognized in Miami-Dade County.

“Preventing couples from marrying solely on the basis of their sexual orientation serves no governmental interest,” Zabel stated in her July decision. “It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society.”

For the rest of the state, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle is expected to let his stay expire, meaning his original ruling back in August which declared the state-wide ban unconstitutional will hold. Hinkle placed the stay to allow legal appeals, but Attorney General Pam Bondi’s attempt at an extension of the stay has been rejected by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on Monday, saying that the decision to bend to gay marriage advocacy will only make matters worse for families.

“Marriage based on the complementarity of the sexes is the lifeblood of family, and family is the foundation of our society,” the bishops said. “The crisis that sadly the family is experiencing today will only be aggravated by imposing this redefinition of marriage. Society must rediscover the irreplaceable roles of both mother and father who bring unique gifts to the education and rearing of children.”

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