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Florida: Recognition of same-sex marriages (SSMs)

Part 9: 2014-JUL: During three weeks,
three Circuit Judges in three contiguous Florida
counties rule for marriage equality (Cont'd)

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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The location of Monroe, and Miami-Dade counties in South Florida:

Southern area of Florida 1

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wedding rings 2014-JUL-17: Ruling in Monroe County Circuit Court (Cont'd):

On 2014-JUL-17, Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia issued a ruling that struck down Florida's ban on marriage for same-sex couples -- but only within Monroe County. He ordered that the issuance of marriage licenses to begin within that county on JUL-22. The state Attorney General, Pam Bondi, quickly appealed the case to the state's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. This action automatically stayed Judge Garcia's ruling pending the outcome of the appeal. No licenses were issued, and no marriages solemnized.

This county is in the extreme south-west of Florida and includes the Florida Keys. As described in the previous essay, Aaron Huntsmand and William Lee Jones filed their lawsuit Huntsman v. Heavilin on 2013-APR-02 seeking the right to marry. Their court hearing was held on 2014-JUL-07.

In his ruling, Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia wrote:

"The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country's proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular, and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority." 5

This passage may contain a tyographical error. It is true that "... the majority of voters opposed" same-sex marriage back in 2008. However, voters in Florida and nationally have steadily increased support for such marriages since that time. If the constitutional amendment were voted on today, it would likely fail.

Judge Garcia ordered that the issuance of marriage licenses were to begin within Monroe County on JUL-22. The state Attorney General, Pam Bondi, quickly appealed the case to the state's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. This action automatically stayed Judge Garcia's ruling pending the outcome of the appeal. No licenses were issued; no same-sex couples married.

Evan Wolfson, an advocate for marriage equality issued a statement saying:

"We can now add Florida's voice to the urgent need for the Supreme Court to take a freedom to marry case and bring the entire country to national resolution, ending marriage discrimination across America." 5

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council -- a group who played a major role in promoting the 2008 Constitutional Amendment which banned SSM, issued a statement:

"With one stoke of a pen, a mere trial judge has attempted to overthrow an act of direct democracy by five million Floridians who defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman." 5

Some readers of the National Public Radio web site which commented on this lawsuit 5 posted "their comments

  • Delta York commented:

    "... we should all support SSM, even if you don't personally believe in it. Because it is the very foundation of our Constitution that the majority should not be allowed to dictate which minorities get rights and which don't."

    • To whom "foxbat2020" responded"

      "Supporting SSM has nothing to do with the foundation of our Constitution. If anything, the reverse is true.

      Having a few court judges overturn the will of the people in these states goes against what the Constitution plainly promotes -- keeping the Federal Government out of issues that it doesn't have responsibility to interfere with -- allow for the states to decide the issue. If people in various states want to change marriage laws to include SSM - let them decide and vote on it. So far, few states have voted in favor of doing just that. Most states have voted against SSM laws when they allow their citizens to vote on the issue."

      • To whom M. Jones responded":

        "Do the words "tyranny of the majority'' ring a bell with you?

        To be clear:
        Homosexuals are not lesser human beings.

        Homosexuals are not asking for a special right, they are claiming their human right to legally marry the person they love.

        If it makes you uncomfortable, too bad. It has nothing to do with you." 5

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2014-JUL-25: Ruling in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court:

Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel issued her ruling in the case Pareto v. Ruvin. It had been filed on 2014-JAN-21 on behalf of six same-sex couples by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the Equality Florida Institute. Five of the couples had been together from 8 to 25 years; one was recently engaged. 2

Oral arguments were heard on 2014-JUL-02.

Judge Zabel issued her ruling on JUL-25. As expected, she declared the same-sex marriage ban contained in Florida statutes and the Florida Constitution to be unconstitutional because they violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

She ordered the county clerk to stop enforcing the ban and to issue marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples. As in the Monroe County case, the state Attorney General, Pam Bondi, quickly appealed the case to the state's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. This automatically stayed Judge Zabel's ruling pending the outcome of the appeal. 2

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

  1. The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above menu. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  2. Map was truncated from a full Florida county map that was created by MapWise, Inc. at: http://www.mapwise.com
  3. "Florida," Freedom to Marry, at: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/
  4. Arthur S. Leonard, "A third Florida trial court rules in favor of marriage equality in a Civil Union recognition case," Lesbian/Gay Law Notes 2014-AUG-04, at: http://www.artleonardobservations.com/
  5. Alan Greenblatt, "Florida court overturns state's same-sex marriage ban,"2014-JUL-17, National Public Radio, at: http://www.npr.org/

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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-05
Latest update: 2014-AUG-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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