Florida Five: Judge overturns Fla. same-sex marriage ban, Crist’s running mate pick ‘political desperation’

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

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Keys judge overturns same-sex marriage ban; attorney general to appeal: In a decision some called “the beginning of the end” of Florida’s ban on gay marriage, a Monroe County judge ruled Thursday that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples must be allowed to marry. Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia ordered the county clerk’s office to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as early as Tuesday morning. In doing so, he sided with Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who argued that the ban on same-sex mariage in the state constitution violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution. “The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” Garcia wrote in his opinion. Read more

Annette Taddeo-Goldstein a Bad Choice to Rev Up Charlie Crist’s Stalled Campaign: Charlie Crist tried to restart his increasingly stalled campaign against Rick Scott on Thursday by naming Annette Taddeo-Goldstein as his running mate. Crist’s move reeks of political desperation, especially considering the former Republican governor has seen his double-digit lead in the polls over Scott vanish. Nan Rich remains an underdog in the Democratic primary against Crist, but she continues to do some damage, especially because Crist has gone out of his way not to debate her. Most gubernatorial candidates name their running mates after the primary. Read more

Judge schedules hearing to let voters groups make case for redrawing maps: With time running out, the judge who invalidated Florida’s congressional redistricting maps ordered a hearing for next Thursday to hear the last-chance argument by voters groups that the maps should be redrawn before the November elections. In a 20-minute scheduling hearing on Thursday, lawyers for the Legislature, Florida’s secretary of state, and the associations of supervisors of elections told Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis that it is practically impossible to draw new districts in time to meet federal and state requirements for the election. “At this point, absent some very novel, creative plan on your part, we just don’t see how there is any possible way you could intervene…and have an election in newly-created districts,” said Ron Labasky, attorney for the Florida Supervisors of Elections Association. Read more

Charlie Crist’s “mysterious” Nigerian $100k donor: A mysterious Nigerian businessman whose empire is under scrutiny for its ties to a jailed, corrupt African politician has emerged as one of Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist‘s biggest campaign donors, Gossip Extra has learned exclusively. Onajite Okoloko, an oil executive turned fertilizer manufacturer with a sprawling property in Boca Raton, has donated $100,000 to Democrat Crist’s campaign so far this year, according to state campaign records. Okoloko, 48, dropped $25,000 into the former governor’s coffers in January, then again in February, May and June, the records show. Read more

Saying ‘we can’t trust VA’s numbers’ Jeff Miller wary of increased VA fundingThe Florida congressman who chairs up the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee said “we can’t trust the VA’s numbers” as the U.S. Veterans Affairs department asks for $17.6 billion over the next three years. U.S. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson testified before the U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday, asking for the additional funds. With the VA rocked by reports about altered waiting lists at medical facilities across the nation, Gibson noted the department had problems and asked for the additional funds to turn things around. Read more

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