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Florida Ordered to Start Letting Gay Couples Marry Next Month

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Marriage could be coming to Florida sooner than we expected. Plus, after last week’s big win, the Mississippi lawsuit is now on the fast track to an appeal. And Kansas just lost their latest attempt to hold back the start of marriage.

A little over three months ago, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional, but stayed his decision until January 5th so the state had time to appeal. Well, January 5 is coming up, and the state’s asked for an extension. This week the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said no, the stay will expire, and marriage is going to start on the fifth.

This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. First, it indicates that the 11th Circuit probably expects that marriage is going to happen one way or another, so they might as well let it start a little early. Second, it shows that the 11th Circuit doesn’t see any harm to letting gay and lesbian couples get married. The state can still ask the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension, but their chances of getting one are not great.

Now, this ruling is limited to the stay, but the 11th Circuit will rule on the actual merits of the case early next year. So this is a promising sign that they’ll rule in favor of equality. The 11th Circuit is also likely to hear cases currently pending in Alabama and Georgia. This week’s Florida decision is also an early indication that we could get a favorable ruling in those states.

Also last week, a judge in Mississippi put that state’s case on the fast track. Similar cases in Louisiana and Texas are currently scheduled for oral argument on January 9th, and since Mississippi is in the same circuit it’s likely that it’ll join them. The Fifth Circuit also imposed a stay that will prevent marriages from starting in Mississippi until the appeal is complete.

Marriage is still in a sort of gray area in Kansas. Some counties are granting licenses and others aren’t, following a District Court ruling that halted enforcement of the state’s ban. District Attorney Derek Schmidt appealed that decision to the 10th Circuit, and asked for a full 10-judge panel. Last week, the court said no, you’ll just get a regular 3-judge panel. The 10th Circuit has already overturned marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma, and last week’s decision indicates that all of the judges probably agree with that decision, which bodes well for a ruling in Kansas.

47 Comments

  • 1. LK2013  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:15 am

    All good news. Except for Kansas continuing to break the law and screw its citizens.

  • 2. guitaristbl  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:33 am

    And in other news, the Michigan house passed the "if you are christian you can break any law you want" bill, with the speaker still ferociously denying its homophobic…
    They also said they would consider a bill against LGBT discrimination but of course that's shelved.

  • 3. Jen_in_MI  |  December 8, 2014 at 9:18 am

    The political climate here is pitiful, and the citizenry apathetic at best and mostly ignorant of anything happening in Lansing. Speaker "Jase" Bolger is a lying POS who never had any intention of allowing the anti-discrimination measures up for a vote, despite the state's business community telling this rectal wart and his party that their troglodytic hatred of all things LGBT is actually hurting them! That's truly the party of "pro business" isn't it?

  • 4. LK2013  |  December 8, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Jen, I know it's miserable in Michigan, but this post did make me laugh out loud … "rectal wart" … "troglodytic hatred" … priceless.

  • 5. Jen_in_MI  |  December 8, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Thank you darlin'! I was feeling a little bitter, could you imagine? LOL

  • 6. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 8, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Kansas state officials against GLBT rights:

    As my mother would say, "There's a special place in Hell for you." (And my mother is not particularly religious.)

  • 7. A_Jayne  |  December 8, 2014 at 10:23 am

    So does that mean pro-marriage-equality Christian pastors can now legally marry gay couples in MI? After all, their "deeply held religious beliefs" include applying laws equally across the board, and that counts, right?

  • 8. tornado163  |  December 8, 2014 at 11:01 am

    As far as I'm aware, religious officials have never been prevented from conducting "commitment ceremonies". However before going to a religious official to get married, the couple must have a marriage license from a county office. Same sex couple can't actually get these licenses yet, so asking if a religious official can conduct a same-sex wedding is a bit of a moot point.

    I do wonder how long it will take for the first case where a Muslim/Jewish/Hindu/etc. business owner decides to refuse service to a fundamentalist Christian under this law. Admittedly they'd be throwing away a huge chunk of business (which is why the law effectively allows Christians to discriminate but not minority religions), but it would be fun to see how loud the fundamentalists shriek when it happens.

  • 9. A_Jayne  |  December 8, 2014 at 11:11 am

    That's exactly why I put the "legally" description in my comment. Because if Christians can flaunt laws due to "deeply held religious beliefs," those Christians who hold marriage equality as a tenet of their religion should be able to insist that MI sell marriage licenses to couples they intend to marry in their churches regardless of laws providing otherwise on the books.

  • 10. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 8, 2014 at 11:57 am

    North Carolina's Amendment 1 (passed on May 8, 2012) made it illegal (with civil and/or criminal penalties) for ANY entity (whether a church, the state, or other entity) to perform a same sex marriage or other commitment ceremony, whether the state recognized the marriage or not.

    The 'General Synod of the United Church of Christ, et al.' went to court against the state of NC to overturn the laws still on the books that prohibited it from conducting marriages within its religious philosophy, a violation of the First Amendment. The case became moot when NC (as of October 10, 2014) allowed ME to occur in the state, and also recognized legal marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

  • 11. sfbob  |  December 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Those who believe their religious convictions should be preferenced over the legal rights of others should be aware that the sword they are wielding cuts both ways. And if it does not, the law giving effect to their privilege is patently unconstitutional.

  • 12. sfbob  |  December 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    The UCC's suit was the first to be used to overturn Amendment 1.

  • 13. tornado163  |  December 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I disagree with you there. If a religious organization wants to conduct ceremonies for couples who don't qualify under state law (17 year olds without parental consent, 1st cousins in some states, 1 spouse already married, etc.) should those religious people be able to order the state to provide marriage licenses? No, because marriage is completely a civil matter and only the state gets to choose who can get married, albeit in accordance with the Constitution.

    If a state passed a law saying religious organizations can't conduct commitment ceremonies for polygamous groups, I think that law is unconstitutional under 1st amendment grounds, regardless of whether polygamy is legal or not, because the church wouldn't actually be conveying any legal rights with the commitment ceremony.

    I'm not sure why my post was downvoted, all I was saying is that marriage is civil, not religious. Religious groups have no right to tell the state who can or can't get married. And the state can't tell religious groups what sort of ceremonies they are allowed to conduct.

    By the way, I read the very short UCC decision. It's solely based on the couples' 14th Amendment argument, and the UCC's 1st amendment complaint was dismissed without prejudice..

  • 14. hopalongcassidy  |  December 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    flout, not flaunt.
    No offense intended, it's a common error. :-)

  • 15. hopalongcassidy  |  December 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    You're exactly right. In every state, a license from the state is necessary but no religious approval, administration or participation is required whatsoever, it is entirely optional. As to the downvotes, it's how some local whiners "kill the messenger". Juvenile and pathetic. Watch this post for proof.

  • 16. A_Jayne  |  December 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you! Some days, the right words just completely elude me. I'm always grateful to be reminded what they are! :-)

  • 17. A_Jayne  |  December 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I don't know, nor do I care, who down-voted any comment made by tornado163, but tornado163 missed the point. I decided to have some fun with the OP's statement (the Michigan house passed the "if you are christian you can break any law you want" bill.)

    tornado163 replied with a strictly-legally-valid rebuttal, which of course is technically correct, but without the wry smile attached. Perhaps whoever down-voted didn't appreciate having her/his chuckle interrupted.

    Wry smiles are still welcome here as far as I know…

  • 18. RnL2008  |  December 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Well, it also means that I as a person who is both Wiccan and a Spiritual person can return the discrimination without those morons being able to do much about it……..hey, sometimes one MUST be careful for what they wish for!!!

  • 19. fireman452  |  December 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Brenner here again. This is all good news except, the lawyers for the Florida Association of Court Clerks have advised their client (the court clerks) that they must NOT issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples UNLESS they are a named defendant in the suit. How bizarre is that? As the couple who first filed the federal suit in Tallahassee – I am asking what the heck were we supposed to do, name every possible position in state and local government to make sure there was not a loophole for some slime to crawl through? I apologize to the gay and lesbian community if we and our legal representatives did this wrong, but really how ridiculous can you get. We named the Gov, the Atty Gen., two department heads and the one clerk of courts that refused to issue a license to Steven and Ozzie (Washington County) a marriage license – so what the heck were we supposed to do – the judge removed the gov and atty general as duplicative, and left the two department heads and the clerk. By the way you can now get the full scoop on Wikipedia along with a photo or two – Brenner v. Scott: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenner_v._Scott

    That law firm in Tallahassee I think has their necks stretched way out because if I hear that a clerk is NOT issuing licenses – I am going to ask our lawyers to inform Judge Hinkle and the Federal Marshals will show up at their door with handcuffs. In case you have not seen the article in the Tampa Tribune – http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundu

    I will say this – Bondi raised this same issue at one point and Hinkle shot her down like a thunderbolt with a statement that his decision and that of any other federal court would be binding on all of Florida NOT just one or two departments and the Washington County Clerk – I did not see the article mentioned in the Tampa Trib concerning the July memo – but I think the filing from Bondi was about that time so it is likely that her Solicitor General put that in the filing to see if it would fly – just guessing here – however it does look like these idiots in this law firm seem to think they know better – they better be ready to shell out some bucks when the you know what hits the fan on January 6th.

  • 20. DJSNOLA  |  December 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Indeed… I for one would happily throw it in their faces. At least we all know what the next legal battles will be.

  • 21. franklinsewell  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Brenner – a.k.a. Fireman – Unfortunately, Kansas is the same way. No state agencies are recognizing marriages and only 29 out of the 105 county clerks are issuing license.

  • 22. franklinsewell  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Here's a link to the way the ACLU in Kansas added plaintiffs to their lawsuit: https://www.scribd.com/doc/249537008/2-14-cv-0251

  • 23. fireman452  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Good reference but you have it backwards I think – the Plaintiffs added Defendants and it sure looks like they got the whole world tied up that way – thanks for the reference

  • 24. hopalongcassidy  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Law and order…is just fine for these people until it interferes with their agenda of hate and bigotry.
    Got it.

  • 25. franklinsewell  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Right .. I did get it mixed up .. they added Defendants. 

  • 26. sfbob  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    "Slime" seems like an apt description. I agree with you; the state should be made to pay for disobeying the federal courts on a supposed "technicality."

  • 27. RnL2008  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Exactly……and when they get it back, they will realize that it will be them demanding that they get relief from the Same Courts who granted this garbage!!!!

  • 28. RnL2008  |  December 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Although I agree with ya Bob…….slime just doesn't go far enough in my opinion!!!

  • 29. montezuma58  |  December 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Did the law firm representing the clerks' assaciation have any lawyers who went to law schools? From the Tampa Bay times article, "…But the fact remains there are only two courts in the country that have the actual power to invalidate a Florida statute: the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court." Blatant misinformation and spin. I'd bet the house that the lawyer who gave that quote would be singing a different tune on the role of lower courts had they ruled differently in these cases.

  • 30. F_Young  |  December 8, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    How about santorum?
    http://www.spreadingsantorum.com/index2.html

  • 31. StanJames  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    not a wart = a reversed alimentary canal with diarhea

  • 32. StanJames  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    KS home to the westboro baptists, and the on again off again national KKK annual convention.

    HOme to the neo nazi who killed people outside a jewish temple – the temple where my sister inlaws grand son was bah- mizvahed

    And that wacko Brownback gov – a racist at least, maybe worse

  • 33. DACiowan  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Nah, more like the lead picture on Wikipedia's main page right now. Yuck.

  • 34. StanJames  |  December 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    yup give the right winger xtians a thrill and shove the marriage thing up their tukas.

    Willing to bet lts of them are closet cases Here in MD I exposed one to his wife – its on daily kos re his BF and the suicide of his buddy boy 20 years ago.

    told the reight people how a black pastor anti gay to the hilt walked that different kind of walk I've never seen except on gay people

    He didnt run again for the state house. I presume he was told to get out of the state house or get outed., Knowing who I told

  • 35. StanJames  |  December 8, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    just think sure seems likely that equal marriage is comming to FL

    Now Bondi can marry her lover (? m or F), doesnt matter. she supports traditional marriage by being divorced twice, living with her BF (?GF) usual hypocrite. IMO she's trying to deflect from the very good probability she likes to muff dive

  • 36. josejoram  |  December 9, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Any news from Florida? Or bondi is busy looking for her fourth husband (and divorce).

  • 37. DeadHead  |  December 9, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Gawker’s story from 2012 about Rick Santorum’s campaign portrait being photo shopped using gay porn images was even better. http://gawker.com/5887087/rick-santorum-made-enti

  • 38. Raga  |  December 9, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Paragraph 4 of the preliminary injunction clearly states:

    4. The defendant Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services and the defendant Florida Surgeon General must take no steps to enforce or apply these Florida provisions on same-sex marriage: Florida Constitution, Article I, § 27; Florida Statutes § 741.212; and Florida Statutes § 741.04(1). The preliminary injunction set out in this paragraph will take effect upon the posting of security in the amount of $500 for costs and damages sustained by a party found to have been wrongfully enjoined. The preliminary injunction binds the Secretary, the Surgeon General, and their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys—and others in active concert or participation with any of them—who receive actual notice of this injunction by personal service or otherwise.

    It doesn't mention anything about this applied only to named defendants. If they accept the (much outdated) advice of their lawyers, they should be held in contempt of court.

  • 39. Eric  |  December 9, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Greenberg Traurig represents the Florida Association of Court Clerks, they do not represent the clerks in their official capacity.

    If Greenberg Traurig wants to make misleading anti-gay statements then the public should be made aware of how that law firm chooses to operate.

    HRC gave them a 90% rating. http://asp.hrc.org/issues/workplace/organization_

    LGBT contacts are listed on the webpage, people may want to contact them and express their disappointment with the firm's idea of legal advice.

  • 40. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    If I were a deeply religious Xian, could I ban those who underwent Xian baptism in a manner that differs from the way I was baptized? I can think of at least three methods of baptism: sprinkling or rubbing water on a person; full immersion once backwards; full immersion three times forward. I'm sure there are other methods or variations, such as 'baptism' in or from flowing water vs. 'baptism' in or from a still pool, etc.

    Do I just ask them, or do I find out through a written questionnaire? Do I let them finish the questionnaire or oral exam, or can I discriminate as soon as they supply one 'wrong' answer? Do I have to start the exam, or can I discriminate at any time (for instance, the person who is wearing non-Christian jewelry, or dresses in a manner that provides proof that they are not 'the correct Xian' [such as someone in Amish dress, a 'sect' that is discriminated against] )?

    Decisions, decisions, of who to discriminate against, and how to find out the reason that allows that discrimination.

  • 41. hopalongcassidy  |  December 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Remember Emo Phillips?

    Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

    He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

    He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"

    "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"

    He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

  • 42. sfbob  |  December 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I realize you are being partly serious and partly sarcastic. The fact is that the Establishment Clause is there in the Constitution precisely because the founding fathers feared the consequences of this sort of sectarianism.

    Additionally what laws like this proposed one does is they involve government in the business of making decisions about religious doctrines which they are decidedly not equipped to do. Of course those sorts of things do come into play when making determinations about conscientious objector status but there are standards which are intended to be religiously-neutral.

    Finally, it strikes me that such laws can be interpreted in only one of two ways: either they are to apply across the board, regardless of whose religion is offended and on what grounds or else they create a specific carve-out for equal treatment singling out people based on their sexual orientation. That one has already been determined to be clearly unconstitutional. Anyone who believes the purpose of laws like this are intended for any purpose other than to sanction discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation is either lying to themselves or lying to the public.

  • 43. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Bob,

    Mostly sarcastic, since I have been discriminated against myself as I presume you also have experienced. I've been discriminated against because of disability, sexual orientation, member of a small (just over 100,000 member) religious denomination (when I WAS a believer in Xianity), age, etc.

    Others have been discriminated against because of skin color, non-Xian beliefs, national origin (including Native American), etc.

  • 44. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 9, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Tends to lend credence to the old saw that the most vicious wars are civil wars.

  • 45. sfbob  |  December 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I'm Jewish. Not especially observant but I suppose that's one of the perks of being Jewish; pretty much everything is a matter of opinion. Having always lived in big cities with large Jewish populations I can't see I've experienced a great deal of obvious anti-Semitism; that doesn't mean it isn't out there though. My folks were kids during the Depression and lived through the Holocaust. They were here in the US but still they knew what was going on. Even growing up in NYC my mom very definitely experienced anti-Semitism; as for my dad, he would never have willingly discussed it.

  • 46. hopalongcassidy  |  December 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Wry, like irony, is seldom properly propounded but even more rarely properly understood. 😀

  • 47. Cristianos Gays » E&hellip  |  December 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    […] Según los expertos, esta decisión de la Corte de Apelaciones del 11º Circuito es un signo positivo respecto a su futura decisión sobre la apelación, si bien tampoco es una garantía absoluta. Los mismos expertos estiman también que un posible recurso ante el Tribunal Supremo de los Estados Unidos tiene pocas opciones de prosperar, visto que sus últimas resoluciones confirman las decisiones de las Cortes de Apelaciones. […]

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