Florida Same-Sex Marriage Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Same Sex Marriage & Divorce on Tuesday, January 6, 2015.

Yesterday, Florida became the 36th state to allow same-sex marriages . . . sort of. Judge Sarah Zabel authorized the Dade County Clerk to start issuing marriage licenses forthwith to same gender couples.

I’ve written about the same-sex marriage and divorce legal changes in Florida often. Harvey Ruvin, the Dade County Clerk, asked Judge Zabel to clarify and expedite the earlier order delaying marriages.

Lawyers for same-sex couples had also asked the judge to let marriage licensing begin. The state offered no resistance. Judge Zabel then personally performed some of the first weddings at the courthouse.

Elsewhere, a judge in Key West ruled that licenses could be issued in Monroe County after midnight Monday. Judge Luis M. Garcia lifted an earlier postponement order, as of midnight Monday – the point at which a similar order by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle was due to expire.

Judge Garcia noted that both the U.S. Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit previously turned down requests by state officials to keep same-sex marriage licensing on hold pending appeal.

The law of the land in Florida is that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced further.

Without the prospect of any further pleas to higher courts for delay, the issue appeared to be settled – at least in terms of marriage licensing and actual marriage ceremonies – in Florida.

Licenses are expected to be issued by other clerks across the state this morning, under an order by a federal trial judge.

Same-sex marriages already are legal in California and New York. But Florida is the first state that will allow same-sex marriages even though there is no state-wide binding ruling by either a federal or state court.

There is still a pending appeal filed by the State of Florida with the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and they are still considering the appeal filed in a pair of federal cases. The briefing has been completed, but no hearing date has been set.

The Florida Attorney General, who first tried to delay licensing for same-sex prospective spouses, announced she would no longer prevent Florida’s county clerks from issuing the licenses.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to consider five new cases at its private conference this week. But as Scotusblog reports, it is not yet clear whether the Court will announce any actions on Friday on cases considered at that Conference, or will instead wait until the following Monday, when it returns to public sittings following a winter recess.

More can be read here.