Despite Expiring Stay, Court Clerks Unlikely To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Dec 18, 2014

Leon County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Bob Inzer
Credit Leon County Circuit Court

An expiring stay in a federal appeals court case has led to speculation that same-sex couples in Florida might start walking down the aisle early next year.  But it may not be quite that simple.

On January 5, an order delaying a federal court ruling against Florida’s same-sex marriage ban will expire.  But Leon County Clerk Bob Inzer says attorneys have advised the state’s clerks not to begin issuing marriage licenses. 

“This case, as has been decided is specific to the parties in the case which is in fact just those individuals in Washington County,” Inzer says. “And [it] isn’t precedential as it relates to statewide application.”

The American Civil Liberties Union argues same sex couples across the state should be allowed to apply for marriage licenses as soon as the stay is lifted.

But the clerks’ lawyers say the federal court’s ruling is not binding for state courts.  This is important because it means Florida’s clerks could be subject to criminal penalties for issuing licenses.