In the United States, 35 states have already granted wishes of same-sex marriage, beginning with Hawaii in late 1996. Worldwide, 17 other countries also have laws allowing same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships. Most of these are in Europe and South America (CNN.com).
The same-sex marriage battle finally comes in to an end for Florida residents. On the first day of the New Year, a federal judge issued a landmark ruling that finally cleared the way for same-sex marriage in every county in Florida. And, significantly, Attorney General Pam Bondi – Florida’s chief legal opponent to gay marriage – said the state would not try to block county clerks from issuing licenses (MiamiHerald.com). Starting on Tuesday, January 6, Florida will be the nation’s 36th state where same-sex couples can marry or have their legal marriages recognized.
In a sharply worded four-page order, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee, said it was not the injunction he issued more than four months ago against Florida’s gay marriage ban that compels statewide compliance, but the U.S. Constitution. Ruling on the merits of the case on August 21, Hinkle struck down a 2008 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution defining marriage exclusively as the legal union of one man and one woman. But he temporarily stayed his own ruling to give the state an opportunity to appeal. “The defendants did that. They lost,” Hinkle wrote. The stay is due to be lifted January 5 (IBTimes.com).
On August 21, Hinkle declared Florida’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, as have circuit judges in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Bondi filed appeals in the Monroe, Miami-Dade and federal cases and the judges in those cases each stayed their decisions. Hinkle’s stay in the federal court expired after January 5. Bondi asked the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and then the U.S. Supreme Court for extensions. Both courts said no (MiamiHerald.com).
Although history records show no shortage of instances when people defied federal court orders, there has been warnings that there will be fines, court costs, and even jail time for resisting the granting of marriage licenses by clerks and other officials. (News.yahoo.com)
“When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination,” wrote U.S District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee. “Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.”
Hinkle wrote that the state presented no good argument for defending the law: “The undeniable truth is that the Florida ban on same-sex marriage stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice.” The judge also wrote that he didn’t buy Bondi’s defense that a “critical feature of marriage is the capacity to procreate.” “Same-sex couples, like opposite-sex couples and single individuals, can adopt, but same-sex couples cannot procreate,” Hinkle wrote. “Neither can many opposite-sex couples. And many opposite-sex couples do not wish to procreate.” (MiamiHerald.com)
We look forward to January 6, when people who have dreamt for this day to come, can finally be happily married, legally. It is heart-warming to know that all Florida families will soon have the same rights and protections.
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