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Religious Tolerance logo

Florida: Recognition of same-sex marriages (SSMs)

Part 12:
2014-AUG: More reactions to the federal District
Court ruling in favor of marriage equality (Cont'd).
Most of the ruling is temporarily stayed. Ruling
is appealed to U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
District Court stay made temporary.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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2014-AUG-21: More reactions to the U.S. District Court ruling that overturned Florida's same-sex marriage ban:

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops supports the ban and agreed with Attorney General Bondi's defense. They wrote:

"Only the union of a man and a woman in and of itself can bring forth children and thus is the very origin of society. With its unique beauty and goodness revealed, the public has a worthy interest in protecting this institution in law as a means to ensure humanity is both nurtured and strengthened."

The Roman Catholic Church considers artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, and surrogate motherhood to be serious sins. These techniques are often used to help same-sex couples and infertile opposite-sex couples to add children to their family. The Church is divided on the matter of same-sex marriage: the hierarchy is strongly opposed. The majority of the laity favors marriage equality, with support typically slightly higher than average.

The Family Research Council (FRC) is a conservative Christian para-church organization, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. 7 FRC Senior Fellow Chris Gacek issued a statement, saying:

"A radical departure from natural law and human history, this Florida judge has further undermined the legitimacy of the courts in the eyes of the American people. These liberal activist judges may want to take America over the cultural cliff, but don’t be surprised when more and more Americans refuse to follow." 6

Florida has a reputation of being a conservative state. Gacek may not be aware that public opinion polls show that a comfortable majority of Florida voters support same-sex marriage and thus would be in favor of the District Court's ruling.

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District Court ruling stayed:

Judge Hinkle stayed his main rulings which deal with new marriages in Florida and the recognition of existing legal marriages solemnized out-of-state. But he did order that the widowed plaintiff was to be listed as a spouse on her late spouse's death certificate. He said that

"There is little if any public interest ... "

in denying plaintiff Arlene Goldberg's request to be recognized on her late spouse's death certificate.

He wrote in his ruling:

"The correction is important to Ms. Goldberg. There is no good reason to further deny Ms. Goldberg the simple human dignity of being listed on her spouse’s death certificate. Indeed, the state’s refusal to let that happen is a poignant illustration of the controversy that brings us here."

Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed three other cases in county courts and will also appeal this U.S. District Court case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Daniel Tilley, the staff attorney for LGBT rights at the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida seems to assume that the appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold the District Court's decision. He commented:

"We are thrilled that these loving and committed couples will soon have the same protections and security for their families that other married couples have. Florida’s refusal to recognize their marriages serves no legitimate purpose and is hurtful to Florida families. We’re very pleased to see the ban held unconstitutional in such unequivocal terms so that all Florida families will soon finally have the same protections."

Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, commented:

"Florida’s committed and loving gay and lesbian couples deserve the right to legally marry in the state they call home. Judge Hinkle’s ruling today is consistent with 20 other consecutive federal court decisions over the last year that have said state bans on marriage equality violate the basic principles of the [14th Amendment of the] U.S. Constitution. These discriminatory bans only serve to harm LGBT families, and they should be erased from our nation’s laws once and for all." 8

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2014-OCT-24: Attorney General Pam Bondi files brief in federal District Court:

Some supporters of marriage equality in Florida filed a requested with U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, asking that he lift the stay that he imposed in August. This would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.

Attorney General Pam Bondi filed an objection, asking that the stay remain in place until the case in the federal court system is heard by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and that court releases its verdict. Her filing said:

"There is a great public interest in stability of the law. If Florida’s law is going to change in the substantial manner plaintiffs seek, it should be only after the plaintiffs’ legal claims undergo appellate review." 9

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2014-OCT-24: Possible impacts within other states that might result from the federal lawsuit:

This case may eventually impact not only same-sex couples in Florida but also such couples in adjacent states and even far beyond Florida in the future:

  • If the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were to rule in favor of marriage equality as the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuit Courts have recently done, then the State of Florida would be almost certain to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, when the previous three Circuit Courts of Appeals' rulings were appealed, the high court refused to accept them. This caused same-sex marriage to be legalized -- or sent on the road towards legalization -- in 11 states. If the high court is consistent and refused to accept the appeal from the 11th Circuit then marriage equality would be settled law in Florida. Further it would probably be legalized in the other states under the jurisdiction of the 11th Circuit: Alabama and Georgia as well as the Territory of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • If the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were to rule against marriage equality, then the U.S. Supreme Court would be faced with a situation that it might find intolerable: the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuit Courts having ruled for marriage equality and both the 6th and 11th Circuit Court ruling against. With such a conflict, the high court might accept the appeals of some of the Circuit Court's of Appeals in late 2015, hold hearings in early 2016, and issue a ruling in mid-2016 which might legalize same-sex marriage across the entire United States.

Either way, the decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could affect a lot of loving, committed same-sex couples, many of them living well beyond Florida.

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2014-NOV-05: District Court Judge Hinkle denies the request by the Attorney General:

Faced with conflicting requests:

  • From supporters of marriage equality that he lift the stay that he imposed on his ruling in August and let same-sex couples marry.
  • From Attorney General Pam Bondi that he let the stay continue until the U.S. 11th Circuit Court renders its ruling,

Judge Hinkle took an intermediate course.

He reused to lift his stay. He wrote that if he did end the stay so that loving, committed same-sex couples could marry:

"This would leave the 11th Circuit insufficient time to make a considered judgment on whether the stay should remain in place and thus would be inconsistent with the public interest in implementing just once the constitutional decision on same-sex marriage in Florida."

In many other states, federal and state judges had not issued a stay of their ruling, there had been a mad rush by same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses, and many couples were married. That left their marriages in a uncertain legal status. They might have been forcibly divorced later against their will as a result of another court decision.

However, Judge Hinkle also refused to grant Attorney General Bondi's request that he leave the stay in place until the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals renders its verdict. CBS Miami commented that Judge:

"Hinkle also denied Bondi’s request to leave the stay in place as long as the 11th Circuit is considering Florida’s appeal, setting instead the January [05] deadline. The judge said that would mean unnecessary delay, especially considering 'the unbroken line of circuit [courts of appeals'] decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage'.

'No circuit that has decided the same-sex marriage issue on the merits has stayed its ruling,' the judge added." 10

This leaves open the possibility that same-sex couples might be able to start to pick up marriage licenses on Tuesday, 2015-JAN-06.

In Florida, there is a three-day waiting interval after a couple obtains their marriage license before they can marry. This interval is waived if the couple are Florida residents and have attended an eight-hour marriage course. The fee is also lowered for those who have taken the course. 11

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above menu. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Recognition of same-sex unions in Florida," Wikipedia, as on 2014-AUG-21, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. "Crist holds onto narrow lead over Scott," Public Policy Polling, 2014-JAN-2014, at: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/
  3. "Crist Has 15-Point Compassion Lead In Florida, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Back Gay Marriage, Immigrant In-State Tuition," Quinnipiac University, 2014-APR-30, at: http://www.quinnipiac.edu/
  4. Adam C. Smith, "Insider Poll: Fla's same-sex marriage ban is doomed," Tampa Bay Times, 2014-AUG-01, at: http://www.tampabay.com/
  5. Steve Rothaus, "Federal judge: Florida gay-marriage ban unconstitutional," Miami Herald, 2014-AUG-21, at: http://www.miamiherald.com/
  6. Sunnivie Brydum & Jorge Rodriguez-Jimenez, "Federal Judge Rules Florida's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional." The Advocate, 2014-AUG-21, at: http://www.advocate.com/
  7. David Demirbilek, "Southern Poverty Law Center repeats 'hate group' claim about Family Research Council," Daily Caller, 2012-SEP-13, at: http://dailycaller.com/
  8. "Grimsley and Albu v. Scott, et al. - Freedom to Marry in Florida," American Civil Liberties Union, 2014-AUG-21, at: https://www.aclu.org/
  9. Pierre Tristam, "As 32 States Now Recognize Gay Marriage, Pam Bondi Files Latest Delaying Tactic," Flager Live, 2014-OCT-26, at: http://flaglerlive.com/
  10. "US Judge Won’t Lift Stay In Florida Gay Marriage," CBS Miami, 2014-NOV-05, at: http://miami.cbslocal.com/
  11. "Wedding Planning: How to Get a Marriage License," The Knot, 2014, at: http://wedding.theknot.com/

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Florida > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2014-AUG-23
Latest update: 2014-DEC-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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