December 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Eleventh Circuit green lights Florida same-sex marriages

same-sex marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

A federal appeals courts won’t stay same-sex marriages in Florida.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to continue the hold on same-sex marriages in Florida following a lower court ruling against the state’s ban on gay nuptials, allowing same-sex couples to begin to wed in the state “at the end of the day” on Jan. 5.

In a three-page order, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted expedited review of a request from Florida officials to extend a stay as litigation proceeds against the state’s ban on gay nuptials, but determined the hold on Florida same-sex marriages should come to an end.

“Having reviewed and fully considered the Motion, the parties’ briefs, and the orders issued by the District Court in the proceedings below, the Court hereby denies Appellants’ Motion,” the order states. “The stay of preliminary injunctions entered by the District Court expires at the end of the day on January 5, 2014.”

The three-judge panel that lifted the stay consists of U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Hull, a Clinton appointee; U.S. Circuit Judge Charles Wilson; another Clinton appointee; and Judge Adalberto Jordan, an Obama appointee.

In August, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle struck down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, known as Amendment 2, invoking Supreme Court’s decisions against state bans on interracial marriage and the Defense of Marriages.

But, with the exception of marriage recognition for a lesbian widower whose spouse died of a terminal illness, the judge delayed the effective date of his ruling. Hinkle order a stay until federal appeals court lifted their stays on rulings against same-sex marriage bans in other states, and then for an additional 90 days afterward to allow the state to seek a longer stay from him or a higher court.

Because the Supreme Court in October refused to review decisions from three federal appeals court in favor of marriage equality, thereby dissolving the stays in those states, the hold on same-sex marriages in Florida was set to expire on Jan. 5.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, had sought to extend the stay on gay nuptials in Florida up to Election Day and beyond, but the Eleventh Circuit order rebuffs her latest request to stop them from happening.

The state has another option: It could take up its stay request with the U.S Supreme Court. The request would be directed to U.S. Associate Justice Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles stay requests for the 11th Circuit. Thomas could decide the matter himself or refer it to the entire court.

Jennifer Meale, a Bondi spokesperson, said when asked about the next steps, “We are reviewing the ruling.”

If the stay request is made before the high court, it would be the first one from a judicial circuit that has not ruled on marriage equality since the Supreme Court refused federal appeals rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. Although the Supreme Court has recently denied stays on same-sex marriage in Idaho, South Carolina and Alaska, the lack of a federal appeals court ruling on Florida’s marriage law makes the high court’s actions on a stay more uncertain.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Man, I'm getting whiplash trying to follow all the balls in the air regarding Floridians' pursuit of Marriage Equality — and all the drama queens juggling those balls!
    It's entertaining as H-E-double-hockey sticks in winter.
    Honorable mention should first go to nearly out, and fully-evolved GOP-turned-Dem (and now tragic & fallen) Charlie Crist. Crist has to be one of the nation's most dramatic personifications of the country's change in favor of Marriage Equality. Don't doubt his ambitions. He could end up as Editor in Chief of Out.
    Then there's the always affable/ grin-while-you're-cutting-'em, Republican anti-LGBT bigot (+ major white-collar scoundrel), Rick Scott. Like Crist, kinda 'hot' — but more akin to a fairly risky and dangerous Grindr date.
    Dogged Marriage Equality opponent ("I'm just getting warmed up!"), AG Pam Bondi obviously thinks she can win something as a reliable anti-LGBT poster girl for anti-gay discrimination. I'm thinking she's aiming for a certifiable, right-wing-nut legal-eagle or judgee appointment of some sort. Federal lifetime appointee appears more her ambition than politics … JMO.
    But reading that out-of-SCOTUS drama queen, Clarence Thomas, might jump in to juggle (or fumble) some last-minute, Floridian Marriage Equality balls — well, that is just too juicy for words!
    Nevertheless, another one of the Blade's great NEWS reporters has put it all together for us — quite succinctly here. As usual, he makes reporting complex LGBT news stories look easy.
    (Maybe 'Blade NEWS reporter stealth' is why his pic so shadowy. Huh?)

  • If someone liked me enough to marry me, I'd do it. However, I don't want to get the nuptials. I don't know what the nuptials are, or what sort of ointment you have to use to get rid of them, but something with an ugly name like that must be bad.

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.