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Relatively moderate three-judge panel will hear Fifth Circuit marriage cases

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Days ago, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals announced the names of the three judges who will hear marriage cases from Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

Judges Patrick E. Higginbotham, Jerry E. Smith, and James E. Graves, Jr., will be on the panel.

Smith and Higginbotham were nominated by President Reagan, and Graves was nominated by President Obama.

The Fifth Circuit is likely the most conservative appeals court in the country, and a lot of its Reagan and George W. Bush appointees are known for their conservative activism. Given those facts, there was a good chance the panel would lean very far to the right.

This one, though, doesn’t. The only judge who really fits the conservative-activist mold is Judge Jerry Smith. He recently became known for requiring the Department of Justice to submit a memo telling the Fifth Circuit whether the current administration believes in judicial review. President Obama had made comments about the ongoing cases involving heath care subsidies, and the request by the judge was prompted by his comments.

Judge Higginbotham wrote the opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas upholding affirmative action. In a profile in August, he said that he’d probably be considered left-of-center on the current Fifth Circuit court.

Judge Graves, appointed by President Obama, did write the order granting a stay of marriages in Mississippi, but his order specifically noted that the case is fast-tracked and would soon be argued alongside other marriage cases:

Given that Plaintiffs’ claims will soon be heard in conjunction with these two other cases, a temporary maintenance of the status quo balances the possibility of this harm with the need to resolve Plaintiffs claims in a manner that is both expeditious and circumspect.

It’s not clear that much can be read into the stay.

The bottom line: in the conservative Fifth Circuit, marriage equality supporters were already going to have a tough time winning, but this panel could make it a little easier.


  • 1. Zack12  |  December 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I'm still not holding my breath for a positive ruling for our side.
    Even if (and that's a big if) we win with a three judge panel, it will get overturned en banc, same with the 8th.
    Only SCOTUS is going to be able to bring equality to these circuits, simple as that.

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  December 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I'm definitely very skeptical too. I'm just surprised that given who we could have gotten on the panel, we got these people. Just kind of awesome.

  • 3. Zack12  |  December 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Oh I agree, after all we could have gotten Edith Jones, Edward Prado or Edith Clement but I'm still not breaking out the bubbly yet.
    Graves bio and some of his statements make me very nervous about him being on our side despite being an Obama nominee.
    I guess we will know soon enough.

  • 4. ianbirmingham  |  December 30, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Just as I predicted back in the Holiday thread… 🙂

    As with the 10th Circuit, where a defection from the right over to our side resulted in a circuit-level victory for marriage equality, the Fifth Circuit is quite winnable at this point.

    Here's my comment from the Holiday thread, in which I also note that the 8th Circuit is more conservative than the 5th Circuit:
    Stats on the 5th & 8th Circuits:

    5th Circuit – 8 left, 4 center-ish, 12 right

    8th Circuit – 4 left, 3 center-ish, 11 right

    In both circuits it's possible to get a 3-judge panel with two left-of-center judges.

    Also, many of the judges who have ruled in favor of marriage equality have been appointed by right- wing presidents, so further defections to our side are to be expected.

    Both the 5th and the 8th Circuit could indeed go our way.

  • 5. Zack12  |  December 30, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I said this on the other thread and I'll say it here, with all due respect there are NOT going to be defections to our side coming from these circuits if we get an favorable ruling from a three judge panel.
    They will both go for en banc and we will lose, period.
    This is not being negative Nancy, this is being realistic.
    Two out of the three judges from the 8th who ruled against us in the last same sex marriage case from Nebraska are still on there and other judges on the court are even more conservative then they are.
    And as for the 5th, many of the George W judges make Scalia look like a moderate.
    There will be no defections there either or at the 6th in our favor.
    I get being an optimist but you have to be a realist too.

  • 6. OrvilleKlutz  |  December 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Last year when SCOTUS left it up to the states to resolve marriage equality e.g. Prop 8, after they overturned section 3 of DOMA, any state government that belonged to a circuit court of appeals that supported marriage equality, lost their appeal to keep their state ban on marriage equality when SCOTUS denied the appeals. Now that the 6th Circuit has ruled in favor against marriage equality claiming that traditional marriage should be maintained, SCOTUS will likely overturn that ruling to be consistent with its rulings in favor of marriage equality as the 6th circuit ruling is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

  • 7. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 31, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    As CONservative as most people are in the 5CA, we might not even 'keep' all the judge's we presume to be on our side, let alone have defections adding to our side's numbers.

  • 8. Zack12  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Indeed, out of the three Obama nominees Graves is the most conservative so it will be intresting to see how things shake out.
    Then again, if SCOTUS grants cert, then we won't see a ruling at all, which will be fine by me.

  • 9. wes228  |  December 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    How long would it take for them to order an en banc? If the 5th Circuit takes 3 months to issue their decision, we'll get it in mid-April. It could take another month or two for the en banc hearing to actually be ordered, in which case we'd have to go through another round of briefings and oral arguments (once en banc is granted, the panel decision is vacated and the process pretty much starts over).

    There is no way we would get an en banc decision before the Supreme Court rules. Worst case scenario: the 5th has time to grant the petition for en banc, vacating the panel decision, but they wouldn't have time to actually issue an anti-equality opinion.

  • 10. scream4ever  |  December 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Exactly and assuming their decision isn't stayed of course.

  • 11. RnL2008  |  December 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Come on Zack, have a little bit of hope…….we have nothing to lose expecting the worse, but we could gain a little bit and before an en banc hearing could be requested……the ruling from SCOTUS could come down.

  • 12. jdw_karasu  |  December 30, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    The positive of a "win" from these three judges are likely:

    * slow walk a ruling

    If we have 2 of the 3, then those 2 know SCOTUS is about to take up the Michigan case (and/or others). So they have no rush to issue a ruling in our favor. They can just hold off a while, and then everything will be stayed.

    * en banc isn't quick

    Even of 2 rule in our favor, there's not going to be a fast en banc. Certainly not one that beats SCOTUS taking up the other cases.

    So if we're lucky enough to hold Graves and flip Higginbotham, we're in good shape.

  • 13. MichaelGrabow  |  December 30, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I clicked on a link today that I'm nearly certain was from a comment here and it led to a story that contained a few other links. One was about a man who wrote a book about how he was a pastor or minister who previously held conversion "therapy" courses, but now denounced them, and another was apparently stories of people's experiences with conversion "therapy".

    Does this sound familair to anyone? I can't track it down…I'm guessing it was in the open thread.

  • 14. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Sorry, that isn't ringing a bell. That open thread is now 400+ comments, tough to locate one.

  • 15. VincentLubeck  |  December 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Have you tried checking the 'history' listing in your browser? The story you're looking for should show up there unless your browser is set to delete the browsing history on a frequent basis.

  • 16. hopalongcassidy  |  December 31, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I don't think this fellow was a preacher but it's a similar story:

  • 17. SethInMaryland  |  December 30, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    my ideal hope is we win this 3 panel and then the supreme court steps in and freezes everything before an enbanc can even takes place , and avoiding all togethe a panel/en banc in the 8th circuit

  • 18. flyerguy77  |  December 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Come on guys, HAVE SOME hope and have good vibes with this panel.. Right now, I'm giving this panel a benefit of doubt until after the oral arguments. All negatively thoughts are not good for our mind and heart.. Maybe these judges know what SCOTUS is thinking in the long run,. I'm thinking one of these justices will question why SCOTUS have not stopped these cases going forward (before 6th) and especially with FLORIDA! I WAS suspecting that SCOTUS WOULD have granted a stay for Florida.. Thats a huge eye openner for everyone we have atleast 5 justices at SCOTUS..

  • 19. VIRick  |  December 30, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Here's some positive vibe:

    Today Scotland, tomorrow Luxembourg, and on the 6th, Florida!!

  • 20. SethInMaryland  |  December 30, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    i'm postive but i'm also a realist , we may just win this panel over but a en banc in the 5th NOPE!!!!

  • 21. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I just don't honestly think we will actually hear a result from this panel, nor the 11CA, 8CA, or 1CA, as we will hear cert granted on the 9th (same day as orals) or 16th. Once that's granted, all these proceedings will be placed on hold pending SCOTUS ruling.

  • 22. Dr. Z  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Or at least suspend judgment until after the oral arguments, when we'll.have a better sense of which way the wind is blowing.

  • 23. lurkerquirk  |  December 30, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    This is good news for you guys. I'm going to be a clerk for a federal court of appeals judge (who may or may not be on the 5th) in the next couple of years so I'm pretty knowledgeable about the circuit. This is likely to be my one and only comment for privacy reasons but just suffice it to say that in my personal opinion this is a very good panel to have. Let me put it this way, Higginbotham may be compared to a certain SCOTUS justice that was replaced by Sotomayor.

    As a general matter, everyone here is overestimating how conservative the circuit is. Take a look at the Fisher en banc and see how much that failed. As a last matter, people are relying to much on inaccurate information. Southwick, who has been blasted by a lot of people here, would not have been a "bad" judge to have had on this panel in my opinion. I won't get into specifics as to why, but that's my take.

  • 24. yyyAllenyyy  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Higginbotham is married with two kids.

  • 25. guitaristbl  |  January 1, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    While you most probably won't answer that one it is very natural to have reservations when it comes to a man, Southwick, who has ruled that a mother does not deserve parental rights because she is a lesbian. If we accept your claims about you being a clerk to a federal judge then your words are indeed encouraging though.

  • 26. SethInMaryland  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    heres one good thing we can consider is "if" (big IF) we win this panel , they will be in a bind, they can try and appeal to en banc but most likely it won't even see the light of day in a en banc court because of the supreme court will likely step before then , or they appeal to the supreme court with that circuit will be another victory adding momentum to our side as we go into the supreme court

  • 27. flyerguy77  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    why are we discussing en banc??????? we have not had oral arguments yet.. most of you need to have good vibes not just talk crap because oh, its just 5th circuit……

  • 28. SethInMaryland  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    actually most ppl are feeling postive but also we have to take into account the next possible step which is most likely a en banc appeal, and that where we have to be real with ourselves , we are not going to win in a en banc in the 5th circuit, there is just noway to do it

  • 29. wes228  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    I don't really see the 5th Circuit having the time to issue an en banc opinion before the Supreme Court rules in June!

  • 30. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 7:11 am

    I dont even see the three judge panel having time to issue an opinion to even have a discussion on en banc. Once certiorari is granted in the 6CA cases, this all gets put on hold.

  • 31. flyerguy77  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    So far no Circuit has not accepted an en banc appeal yet.. SCOTUS is sending a big message that you have to rule this way.. 6th Circuit didn't get the message.. Currently I'm giving this panel BOD.. * IF the panel rules in our favor and deny to lift the stay, and our side goes to SCOTUS to lift the stay and they grant to lift the stay THATS THE FREAKIN message 🙂

  • 32. VIRick  |  December 30, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    And the Texas plaintiffs are prepared to do just that, just as flyerguy stated.

    Otherwise, to grossly mis-quote Scalia, it sounds like the haruspices inspecting the entrails, while pronouncing argle-bargle.

  • 33. Elihu_Bystander  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Related to the Florida Brenner & Grimsley Cases:

    Brandall (from Holiday thread): “Two new cases just filed trying to prevent county clerks from performing marriages.”

    Read the full Complaint FFA v Buddy Dyer and Robert LeBlanc

    Read the full Complaint FFA v Armando Ramirez

    Has anybody looked at these complaints? In addition to the error filled gobbledygook, almost every page contains at least one bold font electronic yelling at the recipient judge.

    There is absolutely no deference of respect of the knowledge of the addressed jurist. Good luck on how that goes

  • 34. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:18 am

    As much as I dislike these filings and those filing them, I wouldn't read the CAPS or the bold type as yelling or the like. It's not that unusual for legal briefs to be written in such a way for emphasis of names or points.

  • 35. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Best to luck on them. Not a chance though…

  • 36. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Thanks for posting the links. I see all the breathless screaming and desperate "sky-is-falling" shouting to which you refer. I also see that their complaint is a mess. For example, in the suit against the mayor and the judge, they have this completely extraneous rant about the clerk of court for Osceola county:

    "At least one Florida clerk, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Osceola County, has disregarded the advice of the Florida Clerks’ legal counsel and the vast majority of his peers, and has stated publicly and unequivocally that “‘there is no reason not to proceed issuing marriage licenses one minute after midnight Jan. 6.’”6 “‘We won’t waste any time,’ he said.”7 Backing up the Osceola County clerk’s vow to issue the invalid licenses, the Osceola County Commission voted on December 15 to open the clerk's office in Kissimmee from 12:01 AM to 2:00 AM on January 6 to allow same-sex couples to get the licenses.

    At the time of filing this Complaint, the Osceola Clerk’s official website homepage makes the following announcement confirming the clerk’s intentions:

    The Clerk's office is proud to support marriage equality.
    Marriage licenses will be issued on January 6th 2015 at 12:01 A.M. to the first thirty qualified couples who register online.
    Registration begins on December 30th 2014 at 8:00 A.M."

    I suppose in the suit against the clerk they also have similar rants against both the mayor and the judge. And btw, speaking of disrespect, how does one have the affrontery to sue a sitting judge in his own court???

    But the ruling on this matter will be simple. The FF-whatever has no standing upon which to base their complaint. They haven't suffered any harm. Case dismissed.

  • 37. sfbob  |  December 31, 2014 at 8:42 am

    One of the amusing aspects of the first of the two (I assume the other screed is similar) is that it references the ministerial nature of the duties of the county clerk which Bondi's response to Judge Hinkle's order specifically denies.

  • 38. F_Young  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Glasgow hosts Scotland’s first lesbian and gay marriages

  • 39. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:42 am

    I always forget that they're ahead of us on the day. Congrats to Scotland couples!

  • 40. Zack12  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:19 am

    I would say this, we have a better shot with equality with this panel then the people fighintg against the abortion bans.
    Be thankful that horrid panel isn't hearing the marriage equality cases or it would be a 2-1 or 3-0 ruling against us.

  • 41. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:50 am

    I'm optimistic. Plus, we've had judges who were otherwise considered conservative rule in our favor in the past. Yes, by chance we could have had all three Obama nominees, or some combination of Carter, Clinton, and Obama, but we didn't. I have a good feeling. That will, of course, all be moot if SCOTUS grants review of one or several of the cases before them.

  • 42. Zack12  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:04 am

    From everything I've read, if Graves (the Obama Judge) leaves his religious beliefs at home, he will rule in our favor.
    Higginbotham is going to be the swing vote here if Graves rules for our side.
    Like Richard Posner of the 7th, he has stated that he hasn't changed much of his political beliefs but that the Republican party has lurched so far to the right he looks like a moderate when he isn't.
    Thus he might be more open to our arguments then others.
    Last but not least, Judge Smith is a far right Republican who has had no qualms letting feminists and other groups know exactly what he thinks of them and it is pretty much utter contempt.
    That and the fact his clerks are a whose whose of far right conservatives, with Senator elect Tom Cotton at the top of that list.
    Bottom line, he is a no vote, period.

  • 43. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I'm guessing we will never know, as we will never see an opinion from the 5CA on these cases, unless we can surmise how we think they would have voted from oral arguments.

  • 44. F_Young  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Slovak Politics and Gay Rights.

    "Post-Communist countries can be likened to Western societies operating with a time lag — repeating the same debates that their Western counterparts had some 10 years ago. One such example is Slovakia’s current controversy over gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples."

  • 45. JayJonson  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:58 am

    The only good thing about this panel is that they won't be writing a decision at all. SCOTUS will grant cert to a marriage case, possibly even the Louisiana case, and everything will be held in abeyance pending the SCOTUS ruling at the end of June.

  • 46. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Precisely. Abeyance away come 1/9/15 or 1/16/15 once certiorari is granted.

  • 47. Sagesse  |  December 31, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Owing to the timing, however, we will get to see/hear/read the oral arguments first. If they had managed to delay just a little longer….

  • 48. hopalongcassidy  |  December 31, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Is such an abeyance a legal requirement, or is it just customary or SOP?

  • 49. sfbob  |  December 31, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I seem to recall that when SCOTUS granted cert to the Windsor case, the other federal cases from other Circuits were put on hold. I assume it's SOP but that SCOTUS doesn't want lower courts issuing rulings while a case on the same topic is active with them.

  • 50. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Or it could be looked at the other way around.

    The circuit courts defer any/all rulings on similarly-situated matters, by placing the cases before them on hold, pending the decision from SCOTUS, as ultimately, SCOTUS' decision will take precedence.

    Equally, earlier in the marriage equality proceedings, the district courts in NC, SC, and WV also deferred any/all rulings on similarly-situated matters, by placing their cases on hold, pending the decision of the 4th Circuit Court in the Virginia case, as ultimately, the 4th Circuit Court's decision would (and did) take precedence.

    Legally-speaking, the lower courts are not required to proceed in this fashion, but following standard procedure, which includes due deference, they just do.

    However, what annoyed me with the district courts in those other states in the 4th circuit, especially the one in SC with the "Bradacs v. Haley" recognition case, was the fact that the courts placed the hold on their pending cases much earlier than necessary, in fact, as quickly as they could, right after it became apparent that the Virginia case, "Bostic v. Schaeffer," was to be appealed.

    In the same manner, the 5th Circuit Court will rush to place a hold on the 3 pending appeals before them, almost immediately after SCOTUS grants certiorari to any of the 5 cases presently before it. And ditto for the 1st, the 8th, and the 11th. In a rather uncourtly stampede, they will all bust-ass to be first to place a hold on their pending case(s).

    Thus, besides it being a huge win in a huge state, this is why I'm so hyper about Florida. It's the last federally-guaranteed marriage equality win before everything else in the federal court system comes to a screeching halt, pending SCOTUS. And Florida just makes it under the wire by a few days, maybe a week.

  • 51. wes228  |  December 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    If the other Circuits put their appeals on hold, do you think plaintiffs have a good shot at getting the stays lifted? That would give us Texas, Mississippi, and Missouri!

  • 52. scream4ever  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Arkansas too, but the state supreme court is likely to rule in our favor soon enough anyways. I expect though that the supreme court will likely defer the stay requests to the circuit courts, and thus would not lift the stays in Texas and Missouri, while remains to be seen if the 8th circuit.

  • 53. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Some posters on here keep fearing that the conservative shift to the Arkansas Supreme Court will affect the ruling, but I still don't understand how incoming judges who did not sit in the hearing take part in the impending decision. The opinion should've been voted on and written by the current crop from this 2014 year. Hopefully it has been and will go our way so that Arkansas is in the bag as well!

  • 54. sfbob  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I've found that one rather mysterious too. The incoming justices were not briefed, were not at the hearings and were not in party to the court proceedings. I do wonder if the holdovers will nonetheless consult with the new members before formulating their opinion but I do think it's a fait accompli at this point and they're just sitting on the ruling for some obscure reason.

  • 55. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Missouri seems like a fair shot, what with the state officials not pursuing a stay. The 8th sure is dragging its feet on ruling on the stay (the plaintiffs asked them near the beginning of the month, and even sent the Circuit panel a copy of the SCOTUS denial of stay for Florida). Harder to say for Mississippi, as the stay came from the Circuit itself, or Texas.

  • 56. Raga  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Since the motion to lift stay and/or expedite appea wasn't an emergency motion, the Defendants were allowed two full weeks for their response and there is another week after that for an optional reply from our side. That deadline is today. Only after that will the motion be "ripe" for consideration. (This is the normal procedure. Sometimes the time for response/reply can be shortened/lengthened by explicit order and that did not happen here.)

  • 57. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Ah, I hadn't realized the non-expedited schedule. Makes sense, since couples can marry in two counties already (one which is already ignoring the stay in the first place), so there wouldn't really be a reason to expedite. Thanks again for knowledge, Raga!

  • 58. scream4ever  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    I never saw anything about the defendant's brief. Was it posted on here?

  • 59. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 31, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Question –

    If SCOTUS accepts the case out of Louisiana (I'm not sure it will since it will have skipped almost all action in the Circuit Court), does that mean it is out of the 5CA's hands completely, or does the 5CA still have at least some 'control' of the case?

  • 60. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    IANAL, but my guess is that the 5CA would then defer judgment in the LA case to SCOTUS but still rule on Texas and Mississippi, should it desire to do such. Since the TX and MS were both pro-ME, it would easy to lump those two in a ruling and then hold off on a ruling for LA. (Slightly similar to how the 9CA ruled on Idaho and Nevada but issued a separate ruling for Hawaii, despite hearing all 3 on the same day. Of course, there were different questions at hand, but still gives an example of ruling on 2 and holding the third for later.)

    Obviously, this would take into account the less-likely scenarios that (a) SCOTUS grants cert to LA (although it could combine with a 6CA case) and (b) the 5CA is eager to release a ruling in the next few months rather than hold off on the opinion until the Supreme Court gives the final judgment this summer.

    I imagine it's highly rare to have an occasion where both the SCOTUS is conferencing on cert and the Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing the same case on the same day! So it does open up all sorts of interesting "what if" scenarios.

  • 61. JayJonson  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Change is gonna come in 2015.

  • 62. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Here is to a HEALTHY and Happy New Year to our United States' Supreme Court Justices! We need to have you all around through the end of the Oct14 term this summer.

  • 63. ianbirmingham  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Um, I'd be really happy to see Scalia & Thomas develop a sudden interest in a year-round snow-free lifestyle. We really don't need ALL of them staying put in DC!!

  • 64. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  December 31, 2014 at 7:02 am

    […] USA, Louisiana/Mississippi/Texas: The three judge panel chosen to hear the marriage equality cases here is relatively moderate. full story […]

  • 65. davepCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Off topic, but a really nice article about what Edith Windsor is up to these days. Rose will especially enjoy the first few sentences : )

  • 66. sfbob  |  December 31, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Great article. Maybe even more important than marriage (though without marriage perhaps we couldn't be contemplating it) is this:

    "For young people in particular, she says, 'hopefully it’s the beginning of the end of suicides … the beginning of the end of stigma … the beginning of the end of internalized homophobia.'"

    What a remarkable woman. She is five years younger than my equally amazing mom and just as active as my mom is.

  • 67. RnL2008  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Oh Dave sweetie…..ya know me all to well……darn…

    Hugs and a Big Happy New year to you and yours

  • 68. MichaelGrabow  |  December 31, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Not sure if this has been posted here yet

  • 69. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Let's hope that clarification from Hinkle gets out today or Friday so that we don't have to see 64 other rulings to get all the counties in order. (not counting Orange County here, Washington from the original federal ruling, and Miami-Dade with their follow-up hearing on Monday)

  • 70. cpnlsn88  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Reminds me a little of New Mexico. I am hoping for some clarification to finally achieve Pam Bondi's aim of uniformity across the State. May her (and our) New Year wish come true. Deep down we all want the same thing.

  • 71. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Oh shit! Yes!! Wild!!

    Lesson learned: Keep your mouth shut until until until you have the court order in hand.

    Marriage is on in Orange county,– and the clerk pulled it off herself,– on her lunch hour!!

    Not only that, but it looks like the FF-whatever sued the wrong judge, as a different judge in the same Florida circuit gave the clerk exactly what she had requested:

    "On Tuesday (30 December), clerk Moore Russell filed a petition, asking Judge Shea to clarify what she should do.

    During the lunch hour Wednesday (31 December), he issued an order, ruling that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, that clerk Moore Russell may rely on the Tallahassee federal ruling as 'the law of Florida' and may begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on 6 January."

    BOOM!! Done. Case closed.

  • 72. sfbob  |  December 31, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I love this part:

    "After disclosing to the clerk their legal strategy, the two couples quietly went to the Orange County Courthouse on Christmas Eve with letters, saying they wanted her to give them marriage licenses on Jan. 6, said Shannin.

    In return, the clerk's office gave them letters, denying their request.

    That gave them the ammunition they needed to file suit against Moore Russell, a past supporter of same-sex marriage."

  • 73. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    The previous post details only one part of the legal activity surrounding Moore Russell and same-sex marriage. In a separate legal maneuver designed to clear the way for all Florida clerks to issue marriage licenses, two Orlando-area couples, on Monday, 29 December 2014, filed suit, asking a Daytona Beach appeals court to order Moore Russell to give them marriage licenses. If the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal agrees, it would create a legal ruling that the clerk's association has said would be binding on clerks statewide (even by their own discredited, but widely-circulated memo).

    Then read the part, above, that Bob loves, as it's a continuation.

  • 74. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Haven't seen this posted yet, I believe. I've been wondering what's been taking Judge Crabtree so long to issue a ruling for the amended complaint toward the BS Kansas has been pulling. The article doesn't have a posting of the official timetable set by the judge, but end of January still seems like an awfully long time to let Kansas continue with their non-recognition shenanigans, especially as we enter a new year and people will want to start getting tax papers in order. I gather from this, though, that he's scheduling a hearing so that he can make the final permanent injunction afterward.

  • 75. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Another wrinkle in the ever-evolving Florida madness. The bigotry of some people never ceases to amaze. It's just like those schools banning all clubs to avoid have a gay-straight alliance:

    "If same-sex marriage is allowed across the state, Duval Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell, Clay Clerk Tara Green and Baker Clerk Stacie Harvey will have no choice but to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. But to avoid performing ceremonies for them, these clerks have decided to end all courthouse weddings."

  • 76. hopalongcassidy  |  December 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Actually it's more like a bully who happens to own the football and decides to run home with it and kill the game because a play didn't go his way. I have a favorite name for people like that, it rhymes with "asshole".

  • 77. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    "….it rhymes with 'asshole.'"

    Pray tell, since that says it all, what could possibly rhyme with that???

    As someone who, for an interval, once lived right on the Clay/Duval county line, I'm not the least bit surprised to learn that those clerks have decided to end ALL courthouse weddings. After all, as elected officials, they do reflect the general level of ignorance, bigotry, and assholery of their electorate. And this pinched-mouth response comes from a semi-civilized part of Florida (Jacksonville metro, with a major gay scene). Just wait until you catch the general reaction from some of the clerks out in the rural parts of the panhandle.

  • 78. hopalongcassidy  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I guess nothing rhymes with it, so….

    I lived in Tampa for 14 years starting in 1979, met my partner there in 81. We left in 93 and don't much miss it except for the nice beaches.

  • 79. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Ybor City has really blossomed, and most surprisingly, so has St. Petersburg.

    The only downside, both counties, Hillsborough and Pinellas, are wall-to-wall people and very conjested.

  • 80. hopalongcassidy  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I lived in Town n Country which has, I have been told, pretty much been turned into a ghetto. We used to go over to Ybor to party at the Cuban Club and other wild places and it was great fun. I can't believe St Pete is anything but wrinkle city as it always was.

  • 81. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    As wrinkle city died off, young gay couples moved in, cheaply buying up all those old, gracious Florida bungalows with the endless verandahs. Currently, St. Petersburg Pride claims to be the largest pride event in all of Florida.

    The north end of St. Petersburg, though, is still all decrepit trailer trash.

  • 82. wes228  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    lol…my euphemism is "rhymes with 'glass bowl'"

  • 83. MichaelGrabow  |  December 31, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    In case anyone is looking for the definition of animus. It's this, right here.

    Edit: “It was decided as a team, as an office, this would be what we do so that there wouldn’t be any discrimination,”


  • 84. RobW303  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    They mean discrimination against their religious beliefs, of course.

  • 85. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm


    But check this out. St. Johns county (St. Augustine) abuts Duval county to the south, while Putnam county (Palatka) does likewise with Clay county.

    "The clerks of courts in St. Johns and Putnam counties said they will continue to offer courthouse weddings, even if same-sex marriage becomes legal.

    'Everything will remain the same,' said George Lareau, St. Johns County’s chief deputy clerk of courts.

    Putnam County Clerk of Courts Tim Smith said he will allow individual members of his staff who feel uncomfortable with gay marriage to decline to perform those ceremonies, but no one has said they will take him up on the offer."

    So, for all those folks in Jacksonville metro, just do your big gay courthouse wedding exactly one county south. Besides, St. Augustine is a particularly wonderful venue for a relaxing honeymoon.

    Here, first panhandle reaction:

    "Clerks of courts in Santa Rosa (Milton) and Okaloosa (Crestview) counties in the Panhandle also made announcements that they were ending courthouse ceremonies."

  • 86. RnL2008  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Somehow I still think what these clerks are doing is Discriminatory…….and it matters NOT what the reason or excuse is, the fact is that they DON'T want to marry Gay and Lesbian Couples so they are going to be discriminatory any way they can……this NOT only puts an unnecessary burden on other Counties, it also will cost these Counties extra revenue……which WON'T make higher ups happy!!!

  • 87. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Well said, Rose!

  • 88. RnL2008  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks, it's ridiculous what some will go through just to show there animus, but that's what's happening now and though they probably won't be sued……it's still wrong what they're doing.

  • 89. DrBriCA  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I wonder if we'll have to create a new term for the gay equivalent of "Jim Crow" laws if these things keep popping up. Besides the euphemism of "religious freedom," that is…

  • 90. RnL2008  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I certainly hope not, but somehow I do fear we will have more lawsuits to display these BLATANT discriminatory practices and out these folks for who they really are.

  • 91. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Of course, Rose, it is discriminatory, in a very bigoted way. Plus the Duval clerk goes on and on about his stupid religion, all parts of which I refuse to quote. I also can't imagine his claim, that everyone in his large sprawling office complex is in agreement. Duval county IS Jacksonville, a dynamic city/county with 865,000 people.

    "There were 1,911 wedding ceremonies performed at the Duval County Courthouse in 2013, compared to a total of 6,342 marriage licenses issued."

    However, I can also hear the county officials in neighboring St. Johns county laughing all the way to the bank, as they cash in on all the extra courthouse marriages, both gay and straight, that they will gain by simply continuing to do what they've always been doing.

  • 92. RnL2008  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Do you know why the State of Massachusetts got rid of their residency requirement? Because of all the money they were losing when California allowed Same-Sex couples to marry without a residency requirement……..before a penny could drop on the floor, Massachusetts had changed it's residency requirement…..and my guess is that will happen to these Counties as well……..when they are losing that precious revenue……lol!!!

  • 93. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Florida residents can ALREADY obtain their marriage license from ANY county within Florida. And ditto when it comes to having the follow-up courthouse wedding, as long as it's done in the same county where the license is obtained.

    So, if Duval county won't issue a license, or perform the wedding ceremony, just head south down I-95 to the very next county, as St. Johns county will be more than happy to accommodate you for the exact same payment amount, but will do so with grace and dignity. The heading on the very top of the document will read, "State of Florida Marriage License."

  • 94. Elihu_Bystander  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    i read on the clerk of the court for Escambia County (Pensacola) that Marriage licences issued by a Florida county may be solemnized in any county of the state.

  • 95. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Thank you. True enough.

    I should have been clearer. I was just speaking of the follow-up solemnzing courthouse weddings, which is what the ass-hats in Duval, Clay, Baker, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties now state they are no longer providing.

    I mean, it's all about gays still being so icky, isn't it?

    I so want to grab my old boyfriend and march him straight into the Clay county courthouse, in lovely "downtown" Green Cove Springs (where the courthouse faces the scenic remains of the abandoned Chevy dealership), come 6 January. "OK, sweetheart. Here we are, twinkle bells and all. Now marry us!"

    And Ryan, doesn't that sound like the perfect job for that gay super-hero, the sassy homo from Homosassa??

  • 96. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    It sounds like the ideal job for none-other-than that uber sassy mofo from Homosassa! I could just go on, and on, and on about him.

  • 97. Zack12  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Not a surprise.
    Here in NY after marriage equality passed some clerks resigned so they wouldn't have to issue licenses and others simply passed it off to their deputy clerks.
    It truly is amazing how many clerks don't get the county office isn't a church.

  • 98. palerobber  |  January 1, 2015 at 8:25 am

    from the article:

    Baker Clerk [Stacie] Harvey said the decision is as much about logistics as it is personal conviction. The room where weddings are performed each year will now be used as space for people filling out paperwork related to domestic violence injunctions.

    'I needed the space and our county we’re in the Bible Belt,' she said.

    sounds legit.

  • 99. BillinNO  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I can see News Orleans from my house! We're ready to win in January!

  • 100. RnL2008  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    You know that's funny, right?

  • 101. Raga  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Orange County (FL) Cleared for Granting Marriage Licenses Starting January 6

  • 102. RnL2008  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Here is news from Orlando:

  • 103. SethInMaryland  |  December 31, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    i saw in a comment on equality florida's facebook Osceola County says they will issue licenses too.

  • 104. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Osceola county will issue licenses, come hell, high water, or both,– and with or without the special order obtained by the Orange county clerk. That's the one county that has never flinched, despite the opposition. At the behest of the Osceola clerk, the Osceola county commission voted to authorize him to move forward.

    Oh wait! Thanks Rose. From the Miami Herald article, I just noted that Judge Shea's order covers the clerks in BOTH Orange and Osceola counties, as both are in Florida's 9th judicial district.

    Oh wait again! Does it cover both counties? The original order, as posted by Raga, only mentioned Orange county and the Orange county clerk. But the judicial authority of the 9th judicial district extends to include Osceola county.

  • 105. wes228  |  December 31, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    BREAKING: According to Pam Bondi, it only covers the Orange County Clerk's aunt's dog on the second Monday of February.

  • 106. Steve27516  |  December 31, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    In Leap Years.

  • 107. VIRick  |  December 31, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Latest up-date from the Orange County Clerk of Court's website:

    "The Office of Tiffany Moore Russell, Orange County Clerk of Courts, yesterday (30 December) filed an Emergency Petition for Declaratory Judgment with the (Florida) Ninth Circuit Court. The petition sought clarification as to whether the Clerk’s Office has the legal authority to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses on January 6. Judge Timothy R. Shea today (31 December) issued an order granting the emergency petition. In the order, Judge Shea states that there is a “bona fide, actual, present and practical need for the declaration.” The ruling paves the way for the Orange County Clerk’s Office to issue same-sex marriage licenses on January 6."

    There are 5 clerk of court locations. The main office downtown:

    425 N. Orange Avenue
    Orlando, FL 32801
    Mon- Fri: 7:30 am to 4:00 pm (with clerks working overtime on the first day to finish processing whoever's in line at 4:00 PM)

    And 4 branches (Mon – Fri: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm for all branches):

    1111 N. Rock Springs Road
    Apopka, FL 32712

    684 Goldenrod Road (Pinar Plaza)
    Orlando, FL 32822

    475 W. Story Road
    Ocoee, FL 34761

    450 N. Lakemont Avenue
    Winter Park, FL 32792

    Osceola County Clerk Of The Circuit Court. The Clerk's office is proud to support marriage equality (open from 12:01 AM-2:00 AM on 6 January 2015). Registration for the first 30 licenses is now closed. Please visit the Clerk’s Office beginning January 6, 2015, during normal business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to apply.

    Osceola County Clerk of Court
    2 Courthouse Square
    Kissimmee FL 34741

    Also, it sounds as if Palm Beach county is ready to go, too.

    "Palm Beach County’s clerk, Sharon Bock, said Wednesday (31 December 2014), she would file a similar petition seeking clarification if Hinkle hasn’t ruled by Friday (2 January 2015). She said her office has been preparing to issue licenses for same-sex couple and is only awaiting a final decision from Hinkle.

  • 108. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 31, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Happy New Year, everyone!!!

    50 in '15, 50 in '15!!!!!!!!

  • 109. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 31, 2014 at 10:16 pm


    The 'Aberdeen Evening Express' (published in Aberdeenshire) reports:
    'UK Embassy hosts same-sex wedding'
    (… )

    Edit – the embassy cited in the article is in the Dominican Republic, the nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. I believe the Dominican Republic is one of, if not THE, favorite vacation playgrounds of Lush Rimbaugh. Might be interesting to hear his take on what happened. Then again, we know how he will react, so hearing him complain (and worse) might not be so interesting.

  • 110. F_Young  |  January 1, 2015 at 7:10 am

    The Real Story Behind the Fight for Marriage Equality.
    A new book from gay rights activist Marc Solomon sets the record straight about how gay marriage victories were really won.

    I don't know if this has already been posted, but it's well worth a read.

  • 111. Sagesse  |  January 1, 2015 at 7:11 am

    News from Kansas, the second most confused ME state (apologies if this has been posted).

    Judge moves to speed up Kansas gay marriage lawsuit (AP)

    "A federal judge took steps Wednesday to speed up a ruling on the remaining legal issues in a lawsuit challenging Kansas’ ban on gay marriage.

    "Opposing attorneys must narrow factual disputes and propose a schedule at the end of January for a hearing, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree said."

  • 112. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  January 1, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Still baffling. Kansas is in the 10CA. Binding precedent in Kitchen. SCOTUS denied a stay. There should be no issues. I know I'm repeating from before, just can't wrap my head around why there need ps to be any more hearings.

  • 113. hopalongcassidy  |  January 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Think of the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail…

  • 114. DrBriCA  |  January 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I'm guessing that the hearing will let the judge comfortably release a permanent injunction against all the relevant agencies so that Kansas has no choice but to stop their bigoted, petulant ways. I just wish it would happen sooner, as two months already of their BS is ridiculous!

  • 115. brandall  |  January 1, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Supreme Court to Adopt Electronic Filing

    There are two caveats:

    1) It doesn't start until 2016, so it won't matter to us since we will have won national ME by 6/2015.

    2) Scalia won't participate. He will continue to use his abacas and his quill and ink with parchment paper.*

    *OK, I made up that part. But, he likes the old ways. His carrier pigeon just brought him Loving v. Virginia. His comment after reading it for the first time, "argle bargle. Now, prisoners will say they have a right to get married or deadbeat dads will not pay child support and claim a right to remarry. At least the homosexuals will never be able to claim a right to marriage."

  • 116. montezuma58  |  January 1, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I doubt Scalia uses an abacas. Math implies the use of some logic. His method is to call up the Psycic Friends Network and ask what people who've been dead for well over a hundred years would do.

  • 117. davepCA  |  January 1, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Both of you guys are in rare form this morning : ) Happy New Year's day!

  • 118. VIRick  |  January 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    And here, all along, I thought Scalia was the haruspix who divined "truth" by inspecting the entrails, after which he then pompously pronounced his argle-bargle.

  • 119. jpmassar  |  January 1, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Ireland will vote in May.

    Ahead of a referendum on same-sex marriage this year, the Irish Taoiseach has vowed to “campaign strongly” for a yes vote.

    Enda Kenny responded to the idea that he was opposed to gay and lesbian couples marrying to say: “Perception is not often reality.”

    Speaking to the Star, he added: “In respect of the marriage equality issue, I have already indicated that I expect to campaign strongly for a Yes vote on that.”

    The Irish government last month cleared the way for a referendum on same-sex marriage to take place in May 2015.

    An April ballot had previously thought to be the favoured option, however referendums on same-sex marriage, as well as reducing the minimum age of presidential candidates from 35 to 21 will take place on an as-yet unspecified date in May.

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the announcement, saying: “The Cabinet gave approval to hold the referenda, and both referenda will happen on the one day in the month of May 2015. The Government did not fix a final date.”

  • 120. brandall  |  January 1, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Florida. While we're waiting for Hinkle's response, Pareto v. Ruvin, the FL state case on appeal since July, 2014, just took an interesting turn. There is now a hearing scheduled for this Monday, 1/5 at 11:00 am by FL District Court Judge Zabel. The purpose is to discuss Plaintiff's clarification request on the stay issued by Zabel in light of the Federal Courts refusal to continue the stay past 1/5/15.

    The one other interesting item in Zabel's stay was it specifically stating no county clerks would be prosecuted for attempting to comply with the order. This statement needs to be in Judge Hinkle's clarification that we are waiting for.

  • 121. andrewofca  |  January 1, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Judge Hinkle issues clarification!

    Congrats Florida! What a great way to start 2015!

  • 122. hopalongcassidy  |  January 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    anybody know how to start a new thread? This damn sure deserves it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 123. sfbob  |  January 1, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    There is one now.

  • 124. hopalongcassidy  |  January 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Great! Thanks.

  • 125. sfbob  |  January 1, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    This is the important part:

    "There should be no debate, however, on the question whether a clerk of court may follow the ruling, even for marriage-license applicants who are not parties to this case. And a clerk who chooses not to follow the ruling should take note: the governing statutes and rules of procedure allow individuals to intervene as plaintiffs in pending actions, allow certification of plaintiff and defendant classes, allow issuance of successive preliminary injunctions, and allow successful plaintiffs to recover costs and attorney’s fees."


    "The preliminary injunction now in effect thus does not require the Clerk to issue licenses to other applicants. But as set out in the order that announced issuance of the preliminary injunction, the Constitution requires the Clerk to issue such licenses. As in any other instance involving parties not now before the court, the Clerk’s obligation to follow the law arises from sources other than the preliminary injunction."

  • 126. hopalongcassidy  |  January 1, 2015 at 1:27 pm

  • 127. guitaristbl  |  January 1, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I still have huge reservations for this panel. Oral arguments have thus far in every circuit proven where each judge seems to stand quite clearly (the result in the 6th showed that as well) so we will have a clear image on January 9th I guess. We know we have a certain no from Smith and not a certain yes yet. Lets hope that SCOTUS grants cert and once it does so every procedure freezes in the 5th.

  • 128. Zack12  |  January 1, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    I agree 100% with you on this.
    It's why I don't understand why anyone thought Sutton would rule in our favor when he kept harping on how much meaningful it would be if we simply went back to the voters and won equality that way.

  • 129. DrBriCA  |  January 1, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    I think there was false hope that he would've read the SCOTUS signals from the cert denials on Oct 6 as well as the stay denials for the 9th, and thereafter changed his vote to align with the obvious course SCOTUS was hinting at. It started to seem even more likely when it took another month for them to issue the opinion (believing that the opinions had to be re-written to address these game-changers). But alas, no. He just needed three months to create the ruling that will hopefully be shot down by the end of June!

  • 130. Zack12  |  January 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    People like Sutton are right wing hacks posing as judges and the idea he was going to join a pro-equality ruling never washed with me.
    It really is a shame Democrats only figured out recently what the Republicans knew long ago, the courts matter.
    Younger hacks like Sutton will plague us for years to come, many of the judges Obama put on the various circuits are eligable to retire now or in 5-10 years, hardly a way to ensure a liberal impact on the courts.

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