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A US federal judge struck down a Florida ban on gay marriage Thursday, but stayed the ruling pending further appeals. US District Judge Robert Hinkle, in the Florida state capital of Tallahassee, said that the ban against same-sex marriages approved in a 2008 referendum was unconstitutional. "When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination," he wrote. The ruling came in response to a case involving some 20 people, among them gay couples who wanted to marry in Florida and others who legally married out of state and wanted Florida to recognize their unions.
It is the charity stunt that has got everyone from billionaires to pop stars and even former US presidents drenched by buckets of freezing water. The State Department has issued an internal telegram forbidding US ambassadors and other high-profile foreign service officers from participating in the forfeit, in which people either pledge $100 to ALS research or record themselves getting soaked by frigid water, then post it online and challenge others to do the same. Federal government ethics rules prevent us from using our public offices, such as -- high public offices such as ambassadors -- for private gain, no matter how worthy the cause is," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Thursday. "For that reason, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge."