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Religious Tolerance logo

Florida: Recognition of same-sex marriages (SSMs)

Part 20: 2015-JAN:
Reactions to Judge Hinkle's clarification.
Ex-Gov. Jeb Bush's marriage equality comments.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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2015-JAN-01: Reactions to District Judge Hinkle's clarification:

  • Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) said: "My office will not stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed." 1

This seems a strange response, because both the Attorney General and the clerks of court have sworn an oath of office in which they commit themselves to follow the U.S. Constitution. Judge Hinkle has ruled that the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution requires Florida to treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally. One would expect the Attorney General's office to support marriage equality and not leave decisions up to the clerks.

  • John Stemberger with the anti-equality group Florida Family Policy Council discussed District Judge Hinkle's clarification:

    "It clearly says that only the clerk Washington County is required to issue the marriage license and only to the two persons in that case.  Judge Hinkle has no jurisdiction outside of the Northern District of Florida to bind any clerk outside of North Florida. Clerks outside of North Florida are required to obey the current law and are still subject to all the penalties of a first-degree misdemeanor for violating it." 1

    Stemberger may have not noticed the passage in Judge Hinkle's clarification that discusses how the federal Constitution requires clerks of court to issue marriage licenses.

  • Equality Florida issued a statement, saying:
  • "We believe Judge Hinkle's order was clear from the beginning. We are pleased that he has put an end to the unnecessary confusion caused by a poorly written legal memo by a private law firm. We look forward to January 6th when couples who have waited for this day can finally be married and those of us married elsewhere are finally able to fully protect our families." 1

  • Attorney Daniel Tilley at the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said:

    "We expect all clerks to respect the ruling. But if not, we are committed to ensuring marriage equality in all 67 counties in Florida and we would like to hear from any couples that are wrongfully denied a license after the stay expires." 2

  • Mark Joseph Stern, writing for Slate.com, said:

    "[District Judge] Hinkle’s order is a stinging rebuke to those clerks who would rather inflict their personal prejudices on gay couples than comply with a federal court order. But more than that, it’s a stunning embarrassment to Greenberg Traurig, a once-respectable firm that has now inexplicably and irrevocably tarnished its own reputation. Providing anti-gay legal advice is perfectly acceptable, if rather distasteful. But attempting to draft clerks into a futile campaign of civil disobedience by scaring them into breaking the law is borderline unethical. Greenberg’s willfully misleading memo reads like the opening act of Southern-style civil rights resistance. Let’s hope Hinkle’s new ruling will uproot this fruitless revolt before it has time to blossom into something truly dangerous." 3

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  • Clerks of Court in Baker, Clay, Duval, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties have stated that they will be issuing licenses to qualified same-sex couples starting on JAN-06. However, they will stop performing all wedding ceremonies in the courthouse in order to avoid having to marry same-sex couples, and for other unspecified reasons. 2

  • Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell found that none of the staff in the Duval County clerk's office are comfortable performing same-sex marriages. He said:

    "It was decided as a team, as an office, this would be what we do so that there wouldn't be any discrimination. The easiest way is to not ... [perform marriages] at all. 2

    That is, by discriminating equally against all engaged couples, they would not be viewed as discriminating against same-sex couples.

Some readers of a CBS News article 2 posted rather colorful comments:

  • "Mr. Pizza" posted: "I just went back and read the transcript from last night, and I must say: America sure has become a rebellious and Godless society."

  • "RIJIM" posted: "For you 'Conservatives' out there, just admit you lost on this one and let's all move on."

  • "153FISH" posted: "Thus whole gay rights thing is a road to destruction."

  • "Mr. Pizza" explained that homosexuality is caused by a demon and that "... any reputable independent charismatic church is able to take care of that, just as Jesus and his disciples did in the new testament."

  • "STROLLINGBY" posted: "I respect other's right to hold their opinions. They cross a boundary when attempting to impose those opinions on society. Express, OK, impose, not OK. Religious zealots cross the boundary quite often."

  • "BOB_TX" posted: "I'll admit it, we lost. Good enough for you..??? Keep in mind though that I would not save the life of a gay person, ever. There is no law that say's I'm required to. Besides, I will be too busy laughing at their death.  There aren't any judges out there that can do anything about that. ..."

  • "CAERIC" posted: "It's wonderful that this nation continues to move towards equality for all citizens.  I live in Florida, and am glad that this state is finally joining others in this taking step forward." 2
  • Peggy Rowan Winkler and Meredith Dobbins are planning to marry on JAN-06 in Orlando City Hall.

    Peggy said: "We've been waiting 24 years for this. ... Our shopping pressure is on but we’ll do it"

    Meredith said: "Super excited. I’m like, 'I’m getting married, I’m getting married.' I’m gonna have a wife. I can’t wait. ... It’s great to finally have somebody say to us that our relationship is equally important as their relationship and that’s just a really important validation," 1

  • According to the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Broward FL:

    "In South Florida, celebrations are being planned for Tuesday, including two rallies at the Palm Beach County courthouse in West Palm Beach at 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau has proposed holding 100 same-sex weddings on the beach this winter, though a specific date has not been set. A marriage recognition ceremony and vow renewal for couples married out of state will be held at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden at 6 p.m. Tuesday."

  • There are ten lawsuits in Florida that will be affected by Judge Hinkle's rulings:
    • Plaintiffs in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties sued in state courts for the right to marry. They will be able to obtain marriage licenses on and after JAN-06.

    • Plaintiffs in three active lawsuits sought the right to obtain divorces for marriages solemnized in another state. They will now be treated in the same way as opposite-sex married couples seeking a divorce.

    • In Palm Beach County, a man sued to be recognized as the executor of the estate of his diseased spouse. Now Florida surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage will be treated in the same say as opposite-sex married couples.

    • Also in Palm Beach County, a man married out-of-state to a man from Florida had unsuccessfully applied for a reduced in-state tuition at Florida Atlantic University. He will now be accepted as a resident of Florida. 4

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2015-JAN-05: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush comments on marriage equality:

Ex- Governor Jeb Bush (R), who is a leading Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016, told the Miami Herald newspaper that same-sex marriage:

"... ought to be a local decision. I mean a state decision. The state decided. The people of the state decided, but it's been overturned by the courts, I guess."

If his wishes become true, then some of the states could take perhaps another two decades before they could attain marriage equality. It would take that much time for today's children to become teens, accept a pro-equality position towards same-sex marriage, and become adults and change public opinion so that a majority favors same-sex marriage. On the other hand, if the process is continues to be controlled by the courts, then the U.S. Supreme Court might conceivably legalize same-sex marriage across the country in mid-2015.

NBC News issued a statement saying:

"... make no mistake about it: if Jeb Bush had his way, the progress for LGBT Floridians wouldn't be happening." 5

They cited some of his past statements while he was Governor when he said that marriage should be restricted to opposite-sex couples.

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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. John W. Davis, "Judge: Gay marriage ruling applies to all Florida counties," MyNews13, 2015-JAN-01, at: http://www.mynews13.com/
  2. "Judge: Florida clerks have duty to issue same-sex marriage licenses," CBS News, 2015-JAN-01, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
  3. Mark Joseph Stern, "Law Firm Issues Bogus Advice to Clerks About Gay Marriage Licenses, Gets Slapped Down," Slate.com, 2015-JAN-02, at: http://www.slate.com/
  4. "Same-sex marriages start in Florida earlier than expected; couples elated," Los Angeles Times, 2015-JAN-05, at: http://www.radionews.us/
  5. "After Florida, Are the Politics of Same Sex Marriage Over?," NBC News, 2015-JAN-05, at: http://www.nbcnews.com/
  6. David Smily et al., "South Florida gay couples marry in twilight ceremonies," Miami Herald, 2015-JAN-06, at: http://www.miamiherald.com/

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

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Copyright © 2014 & 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2014-DEC-28
Latest update: 2015-JAN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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