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Religious Tolerance logo

Florida: Recognition of same-sex marriages (SSMs)

Part 14: 2014-DEC:
Three-judge panel of 11 Circuit Court refuses to
extend stay on District Court's decision
to permit same-sex marriage. Reactions.
Webmaster's comments.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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2014-DEC-03: In Federal Court: A panel of judges of the 11th Circuit Court is selected and issues ruling about a lower court's stay:

A three-judge panel was randomly selected from the judges on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Included are Judges Frank Hull, Charles Wilson, and Adalberto Jordan. All three are appointees of Democratic Presidents. That fact alone, along with recent rulings by dozens of state courts, U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal supporting marriage equality, makes it very likely that the panel will eventually decide to uphold the District Court's ruling, and permit same-sex couples to marry in Florida.

The panel issued a two page opinion which denied a request by Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) to extend the District Court's existing stay beyond its 2015-JAN-05 expiry date. Their brief ruling said:

"Having reviewed and fully considered the Motion, the parties’ briefs, and the orders issued by the [U.S.] District Court in the proceedings below, the Court hereby denies Appellants’ Motion, The stay of preliminary injunctions entered by the District Court expires at the end of the day on January 5, 2015."3

Circuit Court judges normally take this type of action only when they believe that there is essentially no chance that the court will eventually rule in favor of the defendants.

The 11th Circuit Court also indicated that it will expedite the passage of the case through the court.

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Comments on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to not extend the District Court's stay:

  • Lawyer Stephen Rosenthal represents the plaintiffs in the federal District Court case "Brenner v. Scott." Referring to that court's ruling, he said:

    "The effect of it is that certainly as of January 6 all same-sex marriages that have been performed in other states or other countries have to be recognized in the state of Florida, which means that all benefits from those unions are valid as of that date. And at least in Washington County -- they sought permission to allow new marriages to be performed -- those can go forward." 3

However, he said that the court clerks in the remaining counties would have to personally decide whether they can ignore the state's constitutional ban same-sex marriage and issue licenses to all qualified same-sex couples.

Webmaster's note: A clerk's oath of office requires her or him to obey both the state and the federal Constitution. Thus, if clerks were to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the clerks would not really be ignoring the state constitutional ban against marriage equality. Rather, they would be acknowledging that the federal Constitution's guarantee of due process and equal protection supercedes the state ban.

  • Lawyer Nancy Brodzki represents a plaintiff attempting to obtain a divorce from a same-sex spouse in a case before a state court. She said:

    "This means that after January 5 the state will recognize same sex marriages solemnized in to her states and will be able to grant divorces." 3

  • Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said:

    "This is a clear victory for us because it finds the harm is being done to the people, not the state. 2

  • Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE Foundation -- a non-profit group promoting LGBT equality -- said:

    "It means that relief is finally in sight for the same-sex married couples suffering under Florida's refusal to recognize their legal unions." 2

  • John Stemberger is president of the Florida Family Policy Council. This group heavily supported the 2008 constitutional amendment. He said:

    "The court today is wrong. The court was also wrong years ago in Dred Scott when it ruled that blacks were not persons. The courts will never have the final word on an institution as fundamental to the human experience as marriage. You simply cannot build a civilization without natural marriage." 2

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Webmaster's comment on John Stemberter's remark: [bias alert]

Stemberger's comment seems to contain some troubling remarks:

  • A case can be made that the U.S. District Court ruling in Florida is not "wrong." National polls since 2011 have consistently shown that the majority of American adults favor marriage equality for all couples. Recent Florida state polls show majority support there as well.

    Meanwhile, dozens of state and federal courts during the previous 18 months have ruled that bans on marriage by same-sex couples violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and are thus unconstitutional and void.

  • The Florida District Court was also not wrong in the Dred Scott ruling. They were not even involved in the case. That 19th Century ruling dealt with a slave in Missouri seeking freedom.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court certainly had the final word on interracial marriages when it issued its ruling in Loving v. Virginia during 1967. That declared bans on such marriages in Florida -- and in 15 other states from Virginia to Texas -- to be unconstitutional. If a court can do this for interracial marriages, they certainly should be able to do it for same-sex marriages.

  • Religious and social conservatives often create and use unusual sexual terms. For example:
    • When referring to a person's sexual orientation, they often use the term "sexual preference." This implies that a lesbian or gay person feels greater attraction to a someone of the same sex than to the opposite sex. The term "sexual preference" can legitimately be used to refer to many bisexuals who are attracted to both men and women, but who often have a preference for one. However, neither homosexuals or heterosexuals have a sexual preference. They are attracted to only one gender. The term "preference" implies that homosexuals have a choice of sexual partners. They don't. By definition, they have no sexual attraction to opposite-gender persons. Also, their sexual orientation in adulthood cannot be changed.

    • When referring to transsexuals and transgender persons who generally have a gender identity opposite to that of their birth-identified gender, conservatives often use the term "gender confusion." This implies that such persons are simply confused over what their gender is. In reality, they have no such emotion; their brain makes them totally aware that their true gender is opposite their birth-identified gender. Some conservatives prefer "confused" because it implies that transgender and transsexual persons should be able to change their gender identity through therapy. It can't be altered. It also is fixed.

    • "Natural marriage" is often used by religious and social conservatives to refer to a legal marriage between one woman and one man. It implies that a marriage involving a loving, committed same-sex couple is "unnatural."

    • Stemberger's final comment -- and similar comments by many other religious and social conservatives -- that marriage equality will eliminate opposite-sex marriage appears to be without merit. To our knowledge, no person or group is attempting to prohibit or otherwise interfere with the solemnizing of marriages by opposite-sex couples. In every state and country where marriage equality has been attained, once the initial surge of same-sex marriages dies down, the vast majority of marriages -- certainly over 90% -- continue as before: between one woman and one man. Same-sex marriage is an add-on, not a replacement for, opposite-sex marriage.

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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. Michael F. Haverluck, "Will 3 judges override 5M Florida voters on same-sex ‘marriage?’," One News Now, 2014-NOV-26, at:
  2. Steve Rothaus, "Same-sex marriages in Florida could begin Jan. 6 after appeals court decision," Tampa Bay times, 2014-DEC-03, at:
  3. , "Could Same-Sex Marriage be Legal in Florida Jan. 6?," Daily Business Review, 2014-DEC-03, at:

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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-DEC-05
Latest update: 2014-DEC-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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