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Same-Sex Marriage History
Howard Simon, Executive Director American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, announced that eight gay couples and the ACLU have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force Florida to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, in Miami Beach, Fla., Thursday, March 13, 2014. The lawsuit names Gov. Rick Scott and other top Florida officials. It asks a judge to declare Florida’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages as unconstitutional. The lawsuit also wants a ruling requiring the state to recognize the marriages.
Friday, May 30, 2014, the attorney general of Florida says in court documents that recognizing same sex marriages performed in other states would “impose significant public harm.”
Eight gay couples and the American Civil Liberties Union have sued the state in federal court. The lawsuit argues Florida is discriminating against the couples by not recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal.
Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a response that asks a federal judge to throw out the lawsuit.
Bondi’s office says the state has a legitimate interest in defining a marriage as between a man and woman because Florida’s voters adopted an amendment in 2008 that banned same-sex marriages.
The filing also says same-sex marriage recognition would create significant problems for the state’s pension and health insurance programs.
On June 3, 2014 Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel denied a motion by three anti-gay groups to intervene in the lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on gay marriage, Equality Florida reports: The groups include Florida Family Action, Inc. (FFAI), Florida Democratic League Inc. (FDL) and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, Inc.
(PULSE)—groups that support the discriminatory marriage laws at issue in the case. Denying their request to be parties in the case, Judge Zabel found that these groups did not have a concrete legal interest in the case because they “will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage, or are prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage.”
The court also noted that the “validity of their own marriages will not be affected,” adding that if these groups could enter the case as parties simply because they have strong beliefs about the issues in the case, “so would anyone who has a strongly held belief regarding the constitutionality of the Amendment and statutes at issue in this suit.” “
Today Judge Zabel reached the proper conclusion in denying extremists seeking a platform for their anti-gay rhetoric the right to intervene in this case,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida Institute, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“This lawsuit is about fundamental, constitutionally protected rights that are violated by a measure that does real harm to our families. We look forward to the day when Florida joins the 19 other states and the District of Columbia, where judges have come to the conclusion that such a ban is indefensible.”
June 24, 2014, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is seeking to defend the state’s existing ban on gay marriage in two ongoing lawsuits. Bondi’s office on Tuesday filed motions to intervene in lawsuits that had been filed by gay couples in Miami-Dade and Monroe circuit courts. In both instances, the lawsuits were not filed against the state. The cases were brought by same-sex couples who are suing county clerks who would not issue marriage licences to them.
Allen Winsor, the state’s solicitor general, states in the motions that Florida has a legitimate interest in intervening in the case since it is a challenge to the 2008 constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage. Bondi is already defending the state in a lawsuit filed in a north Florida federal court. That legal challenge maintains the state is discriminating against gay couples by not recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal.
The clerks in both counties, however, are not actively defending their case. In May of this year, Bondi asked a federal court judge to dismiss a case brought by eight same-sex married couples who wanted their out-of-state marriages recognized in the state. Bondi said that allowing same-sex marriage would “impose significant public harm.” She later defended herself after her comments generated an uproar, saying “I’m simply doing my job.”
Former GOP governor of Florida and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist previously apologized for a blatantly anti-gay political track record. Now he has made good on part of his promise to do everything he can to help achieve equal rights for same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community. He filed an amicus brief today, June 27, 2014, in support of same-sex marriage in the Pareto v. Ruvin case set for a July hearing. Equality Florida reports:
“As former Governor, and as someone who previously supported this measure, Charlie Crist’s words matter a great deal,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “He has taken the same journey the majority of Floridians have taken in realizing that this ban serves no purpose but to disparage and discriminate against gay couples and our children.”
In the brief, Crist stated that as a former Governor and Attorney General who previously supported the ban, he is in a unique position to provide the court a perspective on why it is wrong, harmful to Florida and harmful to gay couples and children who are denied the protections only marriage provides.
In his brief, Crist references his own evolution, in conjunction with the American public’s:
“Thus, with the arc of history now, in fact, bending toward justice, this issue of marriage equality will almost certainly not even be an issue for the children and grandchildren of this State. But it is still the duty of those in the present to recognize that the legitimacy of government depends upon its willingness to fairly, transparently, and equitably administer the law. That goal is frustrated by denying an entire class of citizens equality in the institution of marriage simply because of who they are and whom they love.”
Crist’s brief is an exciting addition to this case, following others filed by the Orlando and Miami Beach city councils. July 2, 2013 Attorneys for gay couples and the state of Florida are squaring off at a hearing on a lawsuit challenging Florida’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel was scheduled Wednesday afternoon to hear arguments in the high-profile case. Like others filed across the country, the lawsuit contends the gay marriage ban added by voters to the state constitution is discriminatory and violates equal protection guarantees. Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office counters that a single judge should not overturn the amendment that passed in 2008. Bondi’s attorneys also argue the U.S. Supreme Court has left marriage definitions to the states. Zabel is being asked strike down the same-sex marriage ban before a trial. It’s not clear when she might rule and an appeal is certain. Thursday, July 17, 2014, A judge in Monroe County, Florida has struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage, the Orlando Sentinel reports:
Circuit Judge Luis Garcia in Monroe County made history, ruling that a provision in the Florida Constitution that outlaws same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.
His ruling is a resounding victory for same-sex couples but only clears the way for gays to marry in a single Florida county: Monroe.
It is the only one over which he has jurisdiction.
Earlier this year, two Key West men sued Monroe County Clerk of Courts Amy Heavilin, demanding that she issue them a marriage license.
The case was assigned to Garcia, who today ruled in the couple’s favor, ordering Heavilin to give them and “similarly situated same-sex couples” those licenses..
In anticipation of a possible run on the local clerk’s marriage license bureau, Garcia ordered that his ruling not take effect until Tuesday.
The AP adds:
The ruling by Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia applies only to Monroe County, which primarily consists of the Keys, and will certainly be appealed. The lawsuit contended that the same-sex marriage ban approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 violated the federal 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. The judge said licenses could not be issued until Tuesday at the earliest.
Attorney General Pam Bondi and ban supporters argued that the referendum vote should be respected and that Florida has sole authority to define marriage in the state. The Florida amendment defined marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman.
Celebratory gatherings have been planned in 14 cities across Florida this evening. Just hours after Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia ruled Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in the case of Key West couple Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, state Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a notice of appeal against the judgement, asking Garcia to change his decision. On Thursday, Garcia ruled in favor of the couple, who sued the Monroe County Clerk of the Court Amy Heavilin for denying them a marriage license because of the Florida Marriage Protection Act of 2008, which requires one of the applicants for the license to be male and the other female. In total, 33 states have marriage equality or have had marriage bans ruled unconstitutional. There are more than 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans in 30 of the 31 states where such a ban exists. “With many similar cases pending throughout the entire country, finality on this constitutional issue must come from the U.S. Supreme Court,” said a spokesperson from the Attorney General’s office in a statement.
A motion asking Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia to lift a stay in his ruling that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional has been denied, reports CBS Miami.
The motion was filed by Key West bartenders Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones on July 21, 2014.
Last week, Garcia ruled that the 2008 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory and violates gay people’s right to equal treatment under the law.
However, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who in May asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit seeking recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, filed a notice of appeal, staying the ruling.
Agreeing with Bondi, Garcia wrote:
“Based on decisions of the United States Supreme Court and other courts to stay proceedings in similar challenges, this court DENIES the Emergency Motion. The automatic stay, currently in place, shall remain in place until completion of appellate proceedings or until further order of the Court.”
Speaking to CBS Miami regarding his concerns about same-sex marriage, Auxiliary Bishop of Miami Peter Baldacchino said “our fear is that the implications of tampering with the language of marriage will have far-reaching implications that can hurt especially the vulnerable.”
However, remaining positive, Huntsman said “whether is happens to tomorrow or if it doesn’t, it’s going to happen.”
Florida State Marriage Laws
2010 Florida Code
TITLE XLIII DOMESTIC RELATIONS
Chapter 741 MARRIAGE;
741.07 Persons authorized to solemnize matrimony.(1) All regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with some church, or other ordained clergy, and all judicial officers, including retired judicial officers, clerks of the circuit courts, and notaries public of this state may solemnize the rights of matrimonial contract, under the regulations prescribed by law. Nothing in this section shall make invalid a marriage which was solemnized by any member of the clergy, or as otherwise provided by law prior to July 1, 1978. (2) Any marriage which may be had and solemnized among the people called “Quakers,” or “Friends,” in the manner and form used or practiced in their societies, according to their rites and ceremonies, shall be good and valid in law; and wherever the words “minister” and “elder” are used in this chapter, they shall be held to include all of the persons connected with the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who perform or have charge of the marriage ceremony according to their rites and ceremonies. History. s. 1, Nov. 2, 1829; s. 2, ch. 1127, 1861; RS 2056; GS 2575; RGS 3934; CGL 5853; s. 1, ch. 28104, 1953; s. 1, ch. 74-372; s. 1, ch. 78-15; s. 34, ch. 95-401.
741.08 Marriage not to be solemnized without a license. Before any of the persons named in s. 741.07 shall solemnize any marriage, he or she shall require of the parties a marriage license issued according to the requirements of s. 741.01, and within 10 days after solemnizing the marriage he or she shall make a certificate thereof on the license, and shall transmit the same to the office of the county court judge or clerk of the circuit court from which it issued. History. ss. 2, 3, Nov. 2, 1829; s. 1, ch. 3890, 1889; RS 2057; GS 2576; RGS 3935; CGL 5854; s. 28, ch. 73-334; s. 1, ch. 74-372; s. 1059, ch. 97-102.
741.09 Record of license and certificate. The county court judge and clerk of the circuit court shall keep a correct record of all marriage licenses issued, with the names of the parties and the date of issuing, and upon the return of the license and certificate shall enter therein the name of the person solemnizing the marriage and the date of marriage. History. s. 3, Nov. 2, 1829; s. 1, ch. 3890, 1889; RS 2058; GS 2577; RGS 3936; CGL 5855; s. 28, ch. 73-334; s. 1, ch. 74-372; s. 10, ch. 99-259.
741.10 Proof of marriage where no certificate available. When any marriage is or has been solemnized by any of the persons named in s. 741.07, and such person has not made a certificate thereof on the marriage license as required by s. 741.08, or when the marriage license has been lost, or when by reason of death or other cause the proper certificate cannot be obtained, the marriage may be proved by affidavit before any officer authorized to administer oaths made by two competent witnesses who were present and saw the marriage ceremony performed, which affidavit may be filed and recorded in the office of the county court judge or clerk of the circuit court from which the marriage license issued, with the same force and effect as in cases in which the proper certificate has been made, returned and recorded. History. s. 1, ch. 3126, 1879; RS 2059; GS 2578; RGS 3937; CGL 5856; s. 28, ch. 73-334; s. 1, ch. 74-372.
Florida is one of only three states (the other two are South Carolina and Maine) who authorize their Notaries Public to “solemnize the rites of matrimony.” §117.045, Florida Statutes. The Florida notary may perform a marriage ceremony providing the couple first obtain a marriage license from an authorized Florida official and may only perform such ceremony within the geographical boundaries of the state of Florida. Thus, a Florida notary could not perform a marriage ceremony in another state. Additionally, a notary from another state, including South Carolina and Maine, could not perform a marriage ceremony in Florida. And, a Florida notary may not marry a couple who has obtained a marriage license from another state.