In a 7-2 decision Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Florida's request for a stay on same-sex marriage, following a federal judge's decision that the state’s ban is unconstitutional. The request to extend the delay, of course, came from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s Aug. 21 ruling struck down the marriage ban, but placed a hold on the decision till Jan. 5 to allow time for appeals. His ruling was the result of two cases — one brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and South Florida’s biggest LGBT rights organization, SAVE. The other case was brought by attorneys William Sheppard and Sam Jacobson of Jacksonville on behalf of two couples.
Judge Hinkle’s ruling didn't just grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Florida; it also recognizes marriages performed outside the State.
"Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts," he writes in his decision. "Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage."
Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the due process and equal protection clauses on the U.S. constitution, he writes.
"The undeniable truth is that the Florida ban on same-sex marriage stems entirely, or almost entirely, from moral disapproval of the practice; moral disapproval alone cannot sustain" the ban, he writes.
An appeal of the Hinkle decision is currently ongoing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, whom Bondi had previously asked for an extension of the stay. The 11th Circuit Court denied her request, so Bondi turned to the U.S. Supreme Court, where yesterday all justices except Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia agreed not to uphold the ban.
“Regardless of the ruling, it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage,” she said in a written statement following Friday's ruling.
Come January 6th, 2015, Florida will be the 36th state to recognize same-sex marriage. It is unclear whether Bondi will continue fighting for "uniformity."