Gay Marriage

two golden marriage rings
Robert Cheaib Via Flickr / WFSU News

Lawmakers in Florida are holding up a California law, pushed by that state’s LGBT community, as evidence their Florida Pastor Protection Act is friendly. But West Coast officials are pointing out subtle differences.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Breaking:  10:10 a.m.: The Supreme Court has found in a 5-4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment grants a constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples.  Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and he was joined by the Court's liberal wing--Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. 

(L-R) Ayana Powell, their officiant and Rochelle Cornwall
Nick Evans

This week, Florida became the 36th state to allow same-sex marriages.  Tuesday morning as a Governor and an Attorney General that have long opposed the change celebrated their inauguration, same-sex couples were reciting their wedding vows just blocks away.   

Right outside the Leon County Clerk’s office is a small park.  Tuesday morning, Ayana Powell and Rochelle Cornwall got married standing beneath one of its oak trees.  It was a chilly morning, but the sun had crept up high enough to send bright shafts of light down through the branches. 

Myles Robertson and Jim Van Riper (seated, L-R) flanked by city and county officials as they register for their marriage license.
Nick Evans

When the Leon County Clerk’s office opened Tuesday morning, it was business as usual—sort of.  The office issued marriage licenses just like it does any other day, but after a federal stay expired overnight, the clerk was able for the first time to offer licenses to same-sex couples.

Among the early-risers at the county clerk’s office, were the entire Tallahassee City Commission, a handful of county commissioners, and even a state representative.  Why all the brass? 

Florida Attorney General

  After Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was lifted Monday, many of its opponents were left flying a white flag, while others began pondering their next move.

Nick Evans / WFSU News

A stay on same-sex marriage has expired in Florida, paving the way for couples to start getting married.

Nearly 30 couples have gotten married so far in Leon County. Marriages are taking place today across the state. Yesterday, the first same-sex couple wed in Miami-Dade, after a state judge lifted her stay on the state's gay marriage ban immediately.

Florida is the 36th state to legalize gay marriage, after several judge's ruled against  the 2008 constitutional gay marriage ban.

This post will be updated throughout the day.

Same-sex couples in Miami were the first in the state to celebrate marriages after Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted her stay Monday.
Adam Lederer via Flickr

The association representing Florida's court clerks is "strongly encouraging" its members to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting January 6th.

The move comes after Tallahassee-based U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a clarifying order stating that his decision rendering Florida's gay marriage ban unconstitutional applies statewide.

gay marriage protest sign
Sushiesque via Flickr

Tallahassee-based U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle says his order on gay marriage applies statewide in Florida.

The legal back-and-forth over gay marriage in Florida  just got murkier.

When Tallahassee-based U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a decision against Florida’s same sex marriage ban in August, he put a stay on his ruling to allow time for an appeal. The stay expires January 5th after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene. Attorneys for Florida’s Clerks of Court argue that ruling only applies to one couple in one county--Washington County in the panhandle, whose clerk is a defendant in the case.

Judge Orders State Response On Same-Sex Marriage License Fight

Dec 24, 2014
gay marriage protest sign
Sushiesque via Flickr

A federal judge Wednesday ordered the state to respond by Monday in an increasingly heated legal debate about whether county clerks should begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Jan. 6.

Same-sex couples in Miami were the first in the state to celebrate marriages after Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted her stay Monday.
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.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

MIAMI (AP) - Same-sex weddings may soon begin in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block them.
The court said Friday it wouldn't block the marriages. A federal judge previously declared Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and said same-sex marriage licenses could start being issued in the state after Jan. 5 unless the Supreme Court intervened.

WTSP's Screenshot

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been elected to a second term. Her opponents, Democrat George Sheldon and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer conceded defeat Tuesday.

With a double digit lead over her Democrat challenger, Bondi got 55 percent of the vote to Sheldon’s 42 percent. And, following her victory speech, she spoke to reporters in Tampa about her win.

“I’m just blessed to have four more years to keep fighting for the citizens of Florida. And, I’m going to do it with every breath I have and as much energy as we did the first four years,” said Bondi.

MGN Online

A gay rights advocacy group agrees with a decision by Attorney General Pam Bondi to let the state’s high court decide whether Florida’s gay marriage ban is legal.

Bondi's Latest Request

Late Monday, Bondi’s office filed a request with 3rd district Court of Appeal to allow the Florida Supreme Court to immediately review the ban. And, Equality Florida’s Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer says it’s about time Bondi came to that decision. His group helped six same-sex couples file one of the two Florida cases in question.

gay marriage protest sign
Sushiesque via Flickr

The ACLU of Florida is asking a circuit judge to lift a stay on same-sex marriages in Florida. Lynn Hatter reports the move comes after the nation’s high court refused to take up several appeals to gay marriage rulings from around the country.

Earlier in the year, Hinkle ruled Florida’s constitutional ban on same-sex unions was unconstitutional, but put a stay in place until similar cases from other states were resolved. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the cases and the ACLU’s Daniel Tilley says he believes there’s no longer a reason the stay should remain.

Gay marriage rulings
MGN Online

Florida officials have announced plans to file an appeal to a federal judge’s ruling finding Florida’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

Department of Health head John Armstrong, Secretary of Management Services Craig Nichols, and Washington County Clerk of Court Harold Bazzell made the appeal through Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office Thursday.

Florida Attorney General

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is asking a Florida appeals court not to act on two pending same-sex marriage cases for the time being. Bondi says Florida will respect whatever the U.S. Supreme Court eventually rules on the issue.

wedding bands
Andrew Malone via Flickr

The Florida Bar Family Law Section plans to throw its support behind a same-sex couple trying to get divorced. In a case called Shaw v. Shaw, the family lawyers plan to file a brief arguing gay couples are being denied equal access to the courts.  

In March, a Hillsborough County couple filed a divorce agreement, but their judge said the Florida Constitution does not recognize their Massachusetts marriage and therefore a divorce could not be granted.

Sean and Christopher holding baskets
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Same-sex couples delivered thousands of petitions to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office today asking her to reverse course on gay marriage. It’s been a week since Bondi appealed a Florida Keys judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Five couples and a handful of supporters carried baskets of petitions through Capitol security first thing Thursday morning. Donna Brown was among them. She says the petitions ask Bondi to stop treating gay people as “second-class citizens.”

Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed a judge’s ruling declaring Florida’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. She filed the appeal within hours of the ruling on Thursday. 

A Monroe County circuit judge made the ruling, which applies only to the Florida Keys.

Judge Luis Garcia agreed with a Key West couple suing for the right to get a marriage license. The men are celebrating their 11-year anniversary together and were turned down when they applied with the Monroe County clerk.

Bondi Equality Florida photo
Equality Florida

Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi is addressing criticism after she filed a brief asking a judge to dismiss a gay marriage lawsuit. Bondi has released a statement calling the public outcry hurtful and insulting.

In the federal suit, eight same-sex couples are seeking recognition of marriages performed legally in other states. In Bondi’s filing last week, she said recognizing those marriages, in violation of the state constitution, would "impose significant public harm."

gay marriage protest sign
Sushiesque via Flickr

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says the state’s recognizing same-sex marriages would "impose significant public harm." Bondi made the comment in a motion asking a judge to throw out a federal lawsuit.

Eight same-sex couples filed the suit in March asking the judge to force the state to recognize marriages legally performed out of state. The group Safeguarding American Values for Everyone, or SAVE, is also a party to the suit. SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima says Bondi’s filing represents an outdated viewpoint.

Amendment 2 protesters

A hearing has been scheduled for next week in a Miami lawsuit challenging Florida’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. A judge will decide whether to allow several socially conservative groups the chance to defend the ban in court.

The suit was filed by six same-sex couples with help from LGBT-rights group Equality Florida and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Next week circuit judge Sarah Zabel will hear arguments from the Florida Family Policy Council and other groups trying to intervene on behalf of voters who put the same-sex union ban in the state constitution.

Alex Johnson/MettaMomma via Flickr

Three groups that campaigned heavily for Florida’s constitutional gay marriage ban have asked a Miami judge to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit challenging it. They want to be allowed to argue against six same-sex couples.

The motion was filed Tuesday by groups called People United To Lead The Struggle For Equality, the Florida Democratic League, and Florida Family Action. Florida Family Action President John Stemberger says throwing out the same-sex marriage ban would disenfranchise millions of voters who decided the matter in 2008.

Florida Democratic League via Twitter

The Florida Democratic Party is threatening legal action against a group it says is impersonating it. The group calling itself the Florida Democratic League has been publicly voicing several positions that conflict with the party’s.

Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp says the Democratic League has held a series of press conferences in recent weeks around Miami.