Florida's First Openly-Gay Judge Predicts Marriage Equality Will Be Legal by 2016

Rand Hoch, Florida's first openly- gay judge, predicted that marriage equality would come to the state -- and the rest of the U.S. -- no later than by the end of June, 2016. The prediction came during Hoch's remarks at the marriage equality demonstration in Lake Worth on Sunday.

The demonstration, which was spearheaded by Andy Amoroso, the first openly gay city commissioner in Palm Beach County, drew a crowd of over 100 people carrying signs and calling for Florida's legislature to legalize gay marriage in Florida.

See also: Gay Weddings Could Bring Lots of Business to Lake Worth if Legal, Commissioner Says

"As a lawyer who closely follows this issue in federal courts across America," Hoch said during his speech, "I feel comfortable in predicting that before the end of June, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down all laws across the nation which prevent lesbians and gay men from marrying their partners."

Hoch, who practices law and mediates employment disputes, became Florida's first openly gay judge when he was appointed Judge of Compensation Claims in 1992 by then-Governor Lawton Chiles. He served until his term ended in 1996.

In 1988, Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, and has served as the group's president since 2006.

During his speech, Hoch also praised Palm Beach County citizens' pro marriage-equality stance.

"More than a quarter of a million people in Palm Beach County voted against enshrining anti-LGBT discrimination in our state constitution," he said. "Locally we had the votes to kill the marriage ban."

The rally, which was held at Lake Worth City Hall, was organized with the help of local advocates as well as political representatives who sponsored or endorsed the demonstration. Sen. Bill Nelson has endorsed the demonstration, as have Sens. Jeff Clemens and Patrick Murphy. Congressman Ted Deutsch is also among those who have endorsed the rally.

The demonstration offered poster boards for gay married couples to make signs showing where they got married and how much they ended up spending for their out-of-state weddings.

"On a financial level, people are spending millions of dollars to get married," Amoroso told New Times last week. "But because of Florida's laws, gay and lesbian couples are being forced to fly to other destinations to get married."

In his speech at the top of the City Hall steps, Hoch called a reversal of Florida's ban on gay marriage "inevitable."

"Sooner or later, the courts here in Florida will declare that the ban against lesbian and gay marriages is unconstitutional, as the ban violates both the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph