Clerks Warned Against Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses As Advocates Threaten Lawsuits

Dec 23, 2014

Credit Adam Lederer via Flickr

The Clerk of Court in Washington County is asking a federal judge to clarify his decision ruling against Florida’s gay marriage ban.

The move comes as the Florida Association of Clerks and Comptrollers doubles down on its position that the ruling applies only to one couple in one county. Leon County Clerk of Court Bob Inzer says he’s not deviating from that position.

“I will be taking my guidance from my council on this until someone can demonstrate to me that his council is not accurate," he says.

Legal counsel for the clerks says Hinkle’s ruling does not apply statewide, and that the only courts with jurisdiction across the state are the U.S. Supreme Court, Florida Supreme Court or the Florida District Court of Appeal. Attorneys for the clerks warn the officials could face criminal charges if they issue licenses to same-sex couples.

The clerks have faced backlash from activists over their refusal to grant licenses to same-sex couples. The issue hinges on whether the ruling applies to only one couple in one county, or is statewide.  Activists say they’re prepared to sue the clerks over the issue.

 “Absolutely, wouldn’t you if your clerk was not obeying the law?" says Elizabeth Schwartz who is part of the legal team representing several couples contesting the state's gay marriage ban in state court. "That’s not something we hoped to do or planned to do—we, we had absolutely thought all clerks would understand that they are bound by Judge Hinkle’s order.”

The ongoing fight over the marriage licenses  may be a blockade for same sex couples who’d been hoping to head down the isle January sixth.