Same-Sex Marriages to Begin in Florida after Supreme Court Rejects Delay

The US supreme court on Friday rejected attempts by Florida officials to postpone same-sex marriages in the state. Gay marriages are thus set to begin in Florida on 6 January.

On 21 August a US district judge, Robert Hinkle, ruled the state’s ban to be unconstitutional, but the decision was immediately stayed.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed one of the two cases on which Hinkle ruled. “As we explained to the court, every day that the ban remains in place, couples are suffering real harms,” ACLU staff attorney Daniel Tilley said in a statement. “We are grateful that the court recognized that, and that as a result, those days are finally coming to an end.”

The district court stay will expire on 5 January. The following day, the state must allow same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.

Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, who has been aggressively fighting to uphold the ban, acknowledged defeat in a statement on Friday.

“Regardless of the ruling, it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage,” Bondi said in a statement. “Nonetheless, the supreme court has now spoken, and the stay will end on 5 January.”

In 2008, Florida voters supported a constitutional amendment to define marriage in the state as between a man and a woman. It is now set to become the 36th state, in addition to Washington DC, to recognize marriage equality.

Hinkle said in November the stay would be lifted in January, prompting the state to ask the 11th circuit court of appeals for an extended stay. When that court denied it, the state filed an application with the nation’s highest court.

An appeal to the Florida case is still in the 11th circuit court of appeals, which is one of a handful of circuit courts to not yet rule on same-sex marriage. The court also has jurisdiction over Georgia and Alabama. The 11th circuit did, however, refuse to extend the stay.

Only the sixth circuit, which covers Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee, hasruled against same-sex marriage this year, which makes it the most likely case to be brought to the supreme court at the present time.

Both sides of the marriage equality battle have campaigned the supreme court to take up a case and issue a final ruling on whether same-sex marriages are constitutional.


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