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Cue That Processional: Gay Marriage Could Be Legal in Florida Starting Jan. 6

| December 4, 2014

On its way to Florida, finally. (Jason Tester)

On its way to Florida, finally. (Jason Tester)

A federal appeals court Wednesday rejected Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request to at least temporarily extend Florida’s ban on gay marriage — possibly setting the stage for same-sex marriages to start in January.


U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in August ruled that the 2008 voter-approved ban was unconstitutional but placed a stay on his decision to allow time for appeals. That stay is scheduled to expire Jan. 5.

Bondi last month asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to keep the stay in place until appeals of Hinkle’s ruling are finished. But a three-judge panel of the court issued a short decision Wednesday turning down Bondi’s request and saying that the stay entered by Hinkle “expires at the end of the day on January 5, 2015.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which has represented a group of plaintiffs challenging the ban, said Wednesday afternoon same-sex marriages will be able to start Jan. 6 if no other attempts at extending the stay are successful. Also on Jan. 6, same-sex marriages from other states would be recognized in Florida, the ACLU said.

“Today, in denying the state’s request to further delay the ruling, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s argument that allowing same-sex couples to marry and have their marriages recognized will cause harm to the state and refused to make these families wait any longer,” ACLU attorney Daniel Tilley said in a prepared statement. “The court effectively ruled that the state does not have a likelihood of succeeding in its appeal.”

A series of federal appeals-court decisions have struck down similar gay-marriage bans in other states, and the U.S. Supreme Court in October declined to take up the issue.

“Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts,” Hinkle wrote in his Aug. 21 ruling. “Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage.”

Since June 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Freedom to Marry website has documented 56 federal and state court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage–36 in federal court, fifteen in state court, and five by federal appellate courts. One federal appellate court, the 6th Circuit, has ruled against equality.

Gay marriage today is legal in 35 states and would have been legal in 45 states absent court stays that are delaying implementation of legalization from lower courts.

Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger, an opponent of marriage equality, issued a statement opposing the 11th Circuit’s ruling, but also made an odd comparison between that ruling and the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision in 1857, which denied blacks the right to citizenship.

“The court today is wrong,” Stemberger said. ” 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.”

The Dred Scott decision was a restriction of rights. The move toward marriage equality is an expansion of rights. By opposing it, Stemberger was more closely aligning the Florida Family Policy Council with the Dred Scott decision than denouncing it.

In asking the appeals court for an extension of the stay, Bondi pointed to a decision in November by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. That decision made it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the case.

“This court should extend the stay because, on balance, it is in the public’s best interest to wait for an appellate decision before implementing an order of this significance,” Bondi argued in a document.

–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida

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17 Responses for “Cue That Processional: Gay Marriage Could Be Legal in Florida Starting Jan. 6”

  1. Justin says:

    Yay to gay marriage

  2. Religous freedom is a fundmental right of all Americans and this gay marriage con-job is hell bent on violating that very fundamental freedomthat has been enjoyed by millions upon millions of Americans since the foundation of this country.

    We need not be naive and stop allowing a small minority to turn this issue into some trumped up nonsene that if we don’t all go along with sodomy being part of the new definition of mariage we are intent on diminishing their human value. That’s the lie.

    They want to defile the institution of marraiage between a man and a woman because they simply won’t accept ther words “Civil Union” that could come with every single benefit of mariage. Oh no, instead they are throwing the bogus civl rights tantrum in order to trash the holy insititution of marriage between a man and woman and spit in the face of God and every God-fearing Christian, Catholic, Muslimand the majority of all American’s who must have a civil right to keep marriage according to their God’s definition. It is not their civil rights that are being violated in this, it’s hundreds of millions of loving, caring, law abiding citizens who will love and accept them in a Civil Union but they refuse to respect our civil rights.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      The con, dear god (and the word con here applies in its English as well as its French meaning) is your interpretation of “religious freedom,” which has more to do with the inquisition than anything blessedly American.

      • And you wonder why your paper is struggling? Learn some respect for the rest and majority of humanity.

        • Pierre Tristam says:

          Not sure where you get the idea FlaglerLive is struggling, dear god (not all-seeing on that one, but here’s a little guidance to enlighten you). As for “respect for the rest,” the day I show tolerance for any sort of allegedly human majority that denigrates minorities, you can take me out back and ISIS me to pieces, because by then I’ll be no better than those cojone-less nut cases. Meanwhile and in happy solidarity with the coming processionals I’ll be happy to be gay on Mondays, lesbian on Tuesdays, hetero on Wednesdays (you know, hump day), transgender on Thursdays, of course abstinent on Fridays (no meat day on my Catholic calendar), and bi on Saturdays. Sundays I leave for my lovely wife to define. How any of this could possibly injure your personal definition of marriage, I have no idea, though you might do well to remember that neither you nor the gods above, not to mention those below, own the institution or its definitions. I checked: it’s not patented.

          • God Bless America says:

            So because our family and millions of others are asking for you to respect our wish to maintain marriage between man and a woman and offerin civil union to respect you, we are lumped in with murderring terrorists in an attempt to force your views upon our children and grandchildren?

            Eric Hendrickson

            • Pierre Tristam says:

              Eric (now that I know who you are: god was a stretch), no one is not respecting your wish to keep marriage defined the way you want to define it. You can marry a woman, you can marry a doe, you can marry an iPhone if that’s what you choose to do: it’s your freedom. But that’s not what your original comment was about. Your original comment was a hateful, incredibly contradictory screed against gays and those who’d speak on their behalf, a revised application of Plessy v. Ferguson reasoning, but applied to gays. We have thankfully gone beyond that. Gay marriage in no way can affect yours or anyone else’s, whether it’s a marriage or a definition of marriage. I don’t know why you’re so hung up on how two men or two women might marry, since no law in the universe, on the books or in physics and biology, will show that anyone else’s marriage can affect yours (or anyone else’s). It’s like what Jefferson said about religion: “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” How does a my friend choosing to make love to his male lover injure yours? Asa for terrorism: I was lumping myself with them, not you, if I were to descend to the sort of reasoning that would show the sort of intolerance you show our fellow human beings. Incidentally, in what church do you hear such vile thoughts? I mean, even my Catholic churches of old have moved away from this sort of hatred, and if you want the real McCoy, you might want to check out our neighborhood Methodists, who still, believe it or not, believe in applying the Beatitudes. One final note. Factually speaking (though this is one of your lesser of many mistakes) a majority of Americans now support gay marriage, and this according to one of the more conservative pollsters. So you’re entirely wrong when you claim that it’s either a “con job” (seriously man? Did you read that over before pressing send?) or a “majority of Americans” who oppose gay marriage. You’re the minority on this one, which of course doesn’t make a damn bit of difference: you’re still free to express your thoughts, and I never for a second gave them the sort of credibility that could presume to have them “imposed” on anyone. I just wish you extended the same courtesy to others without going off half-cocked with incorrect information and outlandish assumptions.

  3. CarleyB says:

    Sad day for Florida and the rest of the States that VOTED Against gay marriage…and some liberal ass judge overturns it over..! What is the point in voting ! This country is in such a sorry condition, NO Morals No laws ..Oh and you can’t mention JESUS any where…you might offend someone…its BS.!

    • AlanA says:

      Great day for Florida. And yes, your vote was overturned, as were votes for slavery, segregation, the subjugation of women, child labor and interracial marriage.

      The whole reason for the 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution is to prevent the majority from passing unjust laws that punish minorities they don’t like. You know, like you’re trying to do?

      THIS is the American Way – to protect the individual from the vicissitudes of the majority, and to protect the Law from perversion by religion.

      The Constitution worked, once again, proving that our Founding Fathers were smarter than you, and all the haters who were drawn to the polls by a cynical attempt to ensure that George W. Bush was elected. He used you, and you were too oblivious to even notice.

      And what did America get out of it? 9-11, two unfunded wars, the wholesale use of torture, and The Great Recession. You got fooled into rushing to the polls to vote for Bush. He used your prejudice and hate to wreak the disaster he caused America, and he used gays as his scapegoat. Don’t believe it? The guy who executed the strategy for him is a man named Ken Mehlman. He’s the one who sold you the lies you bought without a second thought. He admits it, and now atones for it by working nationwide for Marriage Equality.

      God Bless the Constitution. And damn those who wish to pervert it with hate and prejudice.

  4. JJ Graham says:

    If God was so adamant against ” gayness” then wouldn’t there be more bolts of lightning being dealt out to fellow HUMANS ( who happen to be gay) on their wedding day. When this happens I’ll consider that he might have an issue.

  5. Looking forward to it! There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage (and any of those without the others) with any and all consenting adults. Polyamory, polygamy, open relationships are not for everyone, but they are for some. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality “just for some” is not equality. Let’s stand up for EVERY ADULT’S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!

  6. Bethechange says:

    I can’t think of one instance in the New Testament where Christ ever gay bashed. Plenty of “Love thy neighbor,” “Judge not,” hangin’ with sinners & tax collectors, thinkin’ twice before casting that stone, bringin’ wine to the party (woohoo!) and “Love, love, love.” (Or was that Lennon?). I do recall Paul writing to the Romans about it. Hey, didn’t Paul have an alias? Yeah, Saul, right? That zealous, Christian slayer!
    The constitution is not supposed to discriminate and twisting it to advance ONE’s own, fear-based definition would indeed be comical, if it weren’t so ignorant, small minded and frightful.

    • John Smallberries says:

      Correct, it seems to me that many christians pick and choose which laws in leviticus they think are important, and for some reason they always choose the one about men sleeping with men and not the one about perverting justice and showing favortism to the rich.

  7. Sherry Epley says:

    Thinking of this situation from a legal point of view, “Marriage” is a “legal” state which allows some very significant rights to those involved. Please keep in mind that many, many people are not married in church. They can be married by any number of non-religious, certified folk, in any number of “non-religious”places. Destination weddings are often conducted in a non-religious, but legal way.

    Holy Matrimony. . . on the other hand. . . can be called the religious celebration of the act of marriage and the religious leader can decide if they want to perform the ceremony.

    Religious freedom also means “Freedom FROM Religion” , especially the judgemental ones!

  8. Symantec says:

    It’s a shame our government (and society) has become like the parents of children who bend over backwards to their child’s every request no matter how ridiculous or irrational. The solution to the gay marriage issue could be so incredibly simple: give them the FULL rights that traditional marriages get, but simply give it another name… that would be equality (aside from a different combination of letters that make up the word to describe it). If equal rights is all they were after, then that solution would appease everyone. Sadly, though, their agenda is two-fold… they want equal rights, but they’ve dropped to the floor with their arms crossed, crying uncontrollably, demanding they get the blue toy and that everyone has to say it’s red.

    • Nancy N says:

      You are confusing the religious concept of “holy matrimony” with the legal contract of “marriage”. Semantically we use the two words interchangeably these days but they are actually two different things.

      Marriage is a legal process by which a couple registers their union with the state in exchange for receiving certain benefits.

      Holy matrimony is the blessing of the union of two people by a member of the clergy. Being joined in “holy matrimony” confers no legal benefit by itself, without the additional registration with the state. In our country, clergy are legally allowed to sign state marriage certifications. This is not the case everywhere. In Europe in most countries, couples must be married at a state register office by a clerk. They may choose to have a religious blessing ceremony if they so wish in addition, but that ceremony has no legal standing. To have a legal marriage the MUST visit a register office and have a ceremony there.

      In Florida, you can even get married by a notary public, like my husband and I did over 20 years ago. Trying to claim that religious tradition needs to be applied to something that can be made legal by the same guy that certifies your mortgage paperwork is ridiculous.

      Oh and by the way….the Supreme Court ruled that there is no such thing as “separate but equal” decades ago. Try reading a little 20th century history.

      • Devrie says:

        Well said, Nancy.

        I just want to add that, religiously speaking, there are faiths that believe Holy Matrimonies can be held between same sex, adult couples.

        At any rate, if the government allows for special incentives for marriage based on religion, then there should be no “legal” marriages. Either we allow gay adults to get married, or we ban all legally defined marriages. We’re all free to practice our religions as we see fit. Gay people are going to exist whether someone likes it or not. There are also religious gay people who believe they should be married under God with their partners. Allowing them the same religious freedoms doesn’t interfere with anyone elses.

        Legally speaking, banning gay marriage in the U.S does seem unconstitutional.

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