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    Top Fla. court asked to rule on gay marriage

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s highest court is being asked to decide whether the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional.

    In an unusual decision, the state’s 2d District Court of Appeal on Wednesday asked the Florida Supreme Court to settle the question because of ‘‘great public importance.’’ If the high court takes up the case, it could result in having the issue settled before the US Supreme Court acts.

    The ruling is connected to a Hillsborough County divorce case involving a same-sex couple who had been married in Massachusetts but moved to the Tampa area.


    Their petition to dissolve their marriage was rejected by a Florida judge who noted that state law does not recognize gay marriage.

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    ‘‘Resolution of the constitutional questions will no doubt impact far more individuals than the two involved here,’’ states the unsigned opinion. ‘‘And there can be little doubt that until the constitutional questions are finally resolved by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, there will be a great impact on the proper administration of justice in Florida.’’

    A panel of judges with the Lakeland-based appeals court earlier this summer rejected a request to forward the case up to the state Supreme Court. But that ruling was overturned in a 10-3 decision by the entire appeals court.

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked judges to stop ruling on same-sex marriage cases until the US Supreme Court decides whether states can ban gay marriage. But her request has not been ruled on yet.