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Florida: Recognition of same-sex marriages (SSMs)

Part 21: 2015-JAN:
Marriage equality comes to Florida 1 day early.
Same-sex couples marry, some after waiting for
decades. Catholic church condmens SSM.
Clerks cease marriage ceremonies in 14 counties.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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2015-JAN-05: Same-sex couples in Miami-Dade County start to marry one day earlier than expected :

During 2014-JUL, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel found the constitutional ban passed by the voters in 2008 to be unconstitutional and void. She compared the struggles by the LGBT community with those of other minorities to obtain equal rights and protections. She wrote:

"Notably absent ... was any progress for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community until quite recently. However, as evidenced by the avalanche of court decisions unanimously favoring marriage equality, the dam that was denying justice on this front has been broken."

Her July ruling had authorized same-sex marriage in Miami-Dade county. However, she had placed a stay on her ruling that prevented couples from marrying immediately.

On JAN-05, she held a hearing to decide whether to lift her stay immediately and allow same-sex couples in the county to marry one day before the stay by Judge Hinkle's in federal District Court for Northern Florida was scheduled to expire. The hearing lasted only five minutes. No opposition was expressed.

She asked a question, and answered it herself:

"In the big picture, does it really matter whether or not I lift the stay or leave it until tomorrow? ... I’m lifting the stay."

The three plaintiff couples in that case were present in the courtroom. One was Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello, Pareto said:

"There was not a dry eye in the courtroom. It was a relief. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders." 1

Dozens of same-sex couples went across the street to the office of the county clerk to obtain their marriage licenses. The clerk did not have updated marriage application forms, so the couples had to make do with the existing ones. They had had been created for opposite-sex couples. Pareto filled in her personal information under the heading "groom" while Arguello did the same in the "bride" column. They quickly returned to the courthouse with marriage licenses in hand, and were immediately married by Judge Zabel.

Pareto said:

"It was just surreal. To have the privilege of being the first ones in the state to be married, and by the same judge that heard our case! ... There was so much history leading up to that one moment." 1

Two other plaintiff couple Todd and Jeff Delmay and Vanessa and Melanie Alenier also obtained marriage licenses and were married by Judge Zabel on the afternoon of JAN-05.

Sharon Kersten, spokeswoman for Equality Florida said:

"Having spent so much time with these couples through the past year and seeing how much they had to go through, it’s a very emotionally charged moment. It’s just filled with joy."

Fred Grimm of the Miami Herald wrote an entry in his blog titled: "Florida gays win the right to marry, but no one loses." He wrote:

"For such a monumental decision, the effect on society at large will be ethereal. The clamor against gay marriage will fade to indifference. Because the fallacious and illogical argument against gay marriage — that it somehow threatens the sanctity of 'traditional' marriage — hasn't held up in any of the 35 other states that have legalized same-sex unions. ... Gay couples wed in Miami-Dade County and straight couples will awaken Tuesday and find their own marriages unaffected by the ceremony in Zabel’s courtroom. 6

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2015-JAN-05: The Catholic Church issues a statement condemning marriage equality:

The Roman Catholic bishops of Florida issued the following:

"... The Catholic bishops of Florida are deeply disappointed by Judge Hinkle's ruling, as well as refusals by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States to stay the decision while appeals pend.

The conjugal nature of a marriage between a man and a woman has provided for millennia the basis for norms of marital exclusivity and permanence that made possible stable families necessary for human flourishing. In redefining marriage to include same sex couples, the judge has in effect overturned a state constitutional amendment approved by nearly 62% of the electorate in a 2008 ballot initiative.

How society understands marriage has great public significance. Because of this, redefining civil 'marriage' to include two persons of the same sex will have far-reaching consequences in society. Such a change advances the notion that marriage is only about the affective gratification of consenting adults. Such a redefinition of marriage does nothing to safeguard a child's right to a mother and father and to be raised in a stable family where his or her development and well-being is served to the greatest extent possible.

Redefinition of marriage will have implications not yet fully understood. The term 'marriage' can be found in family law, employment law, trusts and estates, healthcare law, tax law, property law, and many others. These laws also affect and pervasively regulate public and private institutions including religious institutions, such as churches, schools, and hospitals. Besides the predictably disruptive effects, imposing this redefinition of marriage threatens both religious liberty and the freedom of individuals to conscientiously object as already seen in those states that have redefined marriage to accommodate same sex couples.

Marriage based on the complementarity of the sexes is the lifeblood of family, and family is the foundation of our society. The crisis that sadly the family is experiencing today will only be aggravated by imposing this redefinition of marriage. Society must rediscover the irreplaceable roles of both mother and father who bring unique gifts to the education and rearing of children."For the benefit of society and the common good, the conjugal understanding of marriage between a husband and a wife and complementarity of a father and mother must be preserved so that the family can be a school of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mutual respect, patience and humility in the midst of a world darkened by selfishness and conflict. ..."

"For each of us, our true glory is in our capacity to love as God loves; and no better means exists to teach the meaning of love than the family. May we speak the truth in love, and may family life led by father and mother flourish again in our state, nation and throughout the world." 8

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2015-JAN-05: A total of 14 courthouses no longer perform any marriage ceremonies:

Traditionally, Florida resident or visiting couples have been able to go to their local courthouse or county clerk's office, obtain a marriage license, and be married there. This service has been discontinued at 14 counties in Florida. All but one are in the panhandle region at the northern section of Florida which is a relatively conservative part of the state. Many of the counties share a border with Georgia or Alabama. Some clerks say that they lack adequate budgets, staff, and/or facilities to supply the service. But other clerks freely admit that denying marriage ceremonies to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples is the only way that they can avoid having to marry same-sex couples without being accused of discrimination.

Zack Ford writing for Think Progress said:

"Couples of any gender seeking to wed in those counties will have to find another officiant willing and able to marry them. It’s unclear what they’ll be expected to do if they can’t find an alternative." 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. "Same-sex marriages start in Florida earlier than expected; couples elated," Los Angeles Times, 2015-JAN-05, at: http://www.radionews.us/
  2. David Smiley et al., "South Florida gay couples marry in twilight ceremonies," Miami Herald, 2015-JAN-06, at: http://www.miamiherald.com/
  3. Bill Logan, "Florida Family Policy Council vows to continue fight against same-sex marriages," ABC Action News, 2015-JAN-07, at: http://www.abcactionnews.com/
  4. "Estimating the economic boost of marriage for same-sex couples in Florida," Williams Institute, 2014-AUG, at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/
  5. Sarah Fowler, "Breaking News: Florida Family Action Files Lawsuits Against Local Elected Officials," Florida Family Policy Council, 2014-DEC-30, at: http://flfamily.org/
  6. Fred Grimm, "Florida's gays win the right to marry, but no one loses," at: http://www.miamiherald.com/
  7. "Viewpoint: Bishops disappointed by same-sex ruling," Pensacola News Journal, 2015-JAN-06, at: http://www.pnj.com/
  8. "Statement in Response to the Redefinition of Marriage in Florida," Florida conference of Catholic Bishops, 2015-JAN-05, at: http://www.pnj.com We have edited the full document to meet copyright restrictions. The full document is available on the PNJ.com web site.
  9. Manu Raju, "Sen. Marco Rubio laments court rulings on same-sex marriage," Politico, 2015-JAN-07, at: http://www.politico.com/
  10. Troy Moon, "Gays wed in Florida! World survives!," Pensacola News Journal, 2015-JAN-06, at: http://www.pnj.com/
  11. Zack Ford, "To avoid marrying same-sex couples, 14 Florida Counties stop all courthouse weddings," Think Progress, 2015-JAN-05, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
  12. Alex Leary, "Bondi should continue fight against gay marriage in Florida," Tampa Bay Times, 2015-JAN-07, at:http://www.tampabay.com/
  13. Bishop Robert N. Lynch, "Church needs patience, humility in light of same-sex marriage," Tampa Bay Times, 2015-JAN-06, at: http://www.tampabay.com/

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

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2015-JAN-05
Latest update: 2015-JAN-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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