No stay, gay couples to marry in Florida in January

The Wisconsin Gazette

The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 19 denied the state of Florida’s motion for a stay of an August federal court ruling that overturned the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The order means the stay expires at the end of the day on Jan. 5. Same-sex couples can marry in Florida once the stay in the ruling is lifted.

“We are thrilled the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the state’s request to delay marriages in Florida,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, the state’s LGBT civil rights group. “Every day of delay is another day of harm experienced by thousands of loving and committed same-sex couples in Florida. It’s time to break out the wedding bells!  We look forward to January 6th being a special day — Florida is ready for the freedom to marry.”

On Aug. 21, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and respect for marriages legally performed between same-sex couples in other states in the federal marriage cases, Brenner v. Scott and Grimsley and Albu v. Scott, brought by the ACLU of Florida, SAVE and private counsel.

Daniel Tilley of the ACLU of Florida emphasized that now clerks across the entire state have a duty to marry couples. He said, “The Supreme Court has spoken, and we expect clerks to begin marrying couples who will finally get access to the protections their families deserve.”

The district court placed a hold on the decision to allow time for an appeal, but the stay is scheduled to expire on Jan. 5. On Dec. 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit denied the state’s request for an extension of that stay, allowing same-sex couples to marry, even as the appeal in the case proceeded.

“Committed and loving gay and lesbian couples in Florida are just as deserving of the right to marry as anyone else,” said Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow. “Every day these couples and their families are denied the protections and benefits that come with legal marriage, they risk real and serious consequences.  We look forward to the day that all couples are able to have their relationships recognized as valid under the law.”