Florida Judge Rules Same-Sex Spouses Can Be Added To Death Certificates

"We will finally have accurate death certificates that honor our relationships."

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that Florida must re-issue death certificates for residents who were incorrectly designated unmarried at the time of their death because gay marriage wasn't legal in Florida.

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“As a matter of federal constitutional law, a state cannot properly refuse to correct a federal constitutional violation going forward," said Hinkle. "Even if the violation arose before the dispute over the constitutional issue was settled. If the law were otherwise, the schools might still be segregated.”

Widows and widowers whose spouses passed away before the Supreme Court passed marriage equality in 2015, can now have their partner's death certificate changed without having to go to a court.

Hal Birchfield and Paul Mocko were the two men who filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of surviving spouses in Florida who were in a similar situation as they were. Birchfield married his partner, James Merrick Smith, in 2012—Smith passed away the following year. Mocko married William Gregory Patterson in California in 2014. Patterson passed away later that year.

“The state of Florida discriminated against us and disrespected our relationship in life and even in James’ death, but this decision will ensure that I and all the other surviving same-sex spouses will finally have accurate death certificates that honor our relationships,” Birchfield said in a Lambda Legal statement.

This isn't the first time Judge Hinkle has ruled in favor of same-sex marriages. He previously struck down Florida's ban on gay marriage in November 2014.

h/t: CBS Miami

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