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The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from "abridging the freedom of speech." But what does this freedom of speech encompass?

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), freedom of speech doesn't necessarily mean you can say whatever you want whenever you want to.

When might your freedom of speech be limited? Here are five examples:

As we celebrate Constitution Day here at FindLaw, we like to reflect on how much (or how little) the average person actually knows about his or her constitutional rights.

Sure you may be able to list off some of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, but do you know how free speech actually applies? Or the right to a jury of your peers?

Test your constitutional mettle with these five challenging questions:

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares for the opening conference of its October 2014 term, the Court is set to consider whether or not to hear cases from five states dealing with the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

The cases -- from Wisconsin, Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Indiana -- will be among the first cases considered by the Court when justices meet on September 29, reports USA Today.

Does this mean the Supreme Court is going to rule on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage?

You may think that "support animals" are just another name from "service animals," but there's a fine legal distinction.

A recent federal court decision put a fine point on the difference in a man's legal battle with a Florida homeowner's association. His HOA's "no pet" policy couldn't be applied to the man's service animal because service animals are not pets -- especially when they are trained to address a condition like PTSD.

So when is an animal a "service animal" and when is it a "support animal"?

Wisconsin and Indiana gay couples were vindicated today by a Seventh Circuit ruling that found both states' gay marriage bans unconstitutional.

In a unanimous decision, the federal appellate court found that neither state was able to provide a rational basis for the same-sex marriage prohibition, leaving it to unconstitutionally deny gay couples equal protection of the laws. The Associated Press notes that with this new decision, the number of states with legalized gay marriage jumps from 19 to 21.

What else is important about this gay marriage decision?

Louisiana's gay marriage ban has been upheld in a federal court, bucking a year-long trend of federal rulings against same-sex marriage bans.

In Robicheaux v. Caldwell, U.S. District Court Judge Martin L. C. Feldman ruled Wednesday that Louisiana's prohibition on gay marriage did not violate same-sex couples' constitutional rights because the law implicates no fundamental rights and has a rational basis. As noted by The Huffington Post, Judge Feldman is the first federal judge to uphold a gay marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Windsor in 2013.

Why did Louisiana's gay marriage ban get upheld when so many others have been struck down?

Is It Legal to Hit Your Pets?

There's a bit of controversy among pet owners about whether its legal to hit your pets.

In most jurisdictions, pets are considered "property" for purposes of determining custody during a divorce, for example. Pets also can't own property, which is why you generally shouldn't try to leave your dog your house in your will.

But do pets have legal protection when it comes to physical discipline?

Florida's same-sex marriage ban was struck down Thursday by a federal judge, who stated that the law violated constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle found Florida's gay marriage prohibition unconstitutional because it denies gay couples the fundamental right to marry without any legally defensible justification. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Hinkle is the fifth judge to rule against Florida's gay marriage ban in the past six weeks; however, he's the first federal judge to do so, and his ruling is the first to have statewide effect.

What can Floridians expect from this latest gay marriage ruling?

If you're planning some international travel, making sure your passport is valid can save not only time and money, but also prevent the potential worst-case scenario of getting turned back at the airport or the border.

If your passport is expired, you'll need to renew it. Even if your passport is still good for a few more months, you'll likely need to renew it. According to the U.S. Department of State website, some countries require that a passport be valid at least six months beyond the date of your trip, and some airlines will refuse to let you fly if this requirement isn't satisfied.

So how do you go about renewing your passport?

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The East Coast has been a legal battleground for gay marriage of late, with the federal 4th Circuit and a state court in Florida striking down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional.

In Florida, a state court judge in Miami-Dade County ruled against the Sunshine State's prohibition on gay marriage, but it won't mean same-sex nuptials in the state just yet. Meantime, a federal appellate court upheld a lower court's ruling, striking down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage and potentially changing the legal field in five states.

How are Florida and Virginia shaping gay marriage in the United States?