The long drawn battle for gay marriage finally sees light at the end of the tunnel with federal judge Robert Hinkle ordering all county clerks to begin issuing same sex marriage licenses beginning Tuesday. Gay and lesbian couples can now obtain a marriage license from January 6th onwards.
Florida judge ends ban on same sex marriage
Federal judge Robert Hinkle overturned the state’s ban on same sex marriage calling it “unconstitutional” but not saying whether a gay people can raise a child successfully or whether or not gay people are moral. In his order he said that while ordinary people may be allowed to discuss the merits of the ruling and whether or not it should be abided by, on no account may a court clerk refuse to issue a marriage license because the parties are of the same sex.
His words were meant for the clerk from the Washington County, named in a federal law suit. However, he clarified that this ruling did not apply to the Washington Clerk alone, but to all the clerks in Florida State. He was of the opinion that every refusal would bring forth lawsuits from divorce attorneys and others. As per State Attorney General Pam Bondi, this ruling will see Florida’s fight for same-sex marriage come to an end, aside of those cases already existing in the courts.
A pair of Court Clerks had begun issuing licenses even before the ban was lifted
Tim Shea, Orlando Circuit Judge on Wednesday ruled to allow Orange County Clerk Tiffany Moore Russell to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Armando Ramirez, the Osceola Clerk said he would begin issuing licenses as per the order, on Tuesday. He faced resistance from the Florida Family Action who successfully lobbied for the ban in 2008, but their opposition was crushed by Judge Hinkle’s order.
In August of last year Hinkle lifted the ban but placed a hold on the ruling that will expire on Monday, allowing same-sex marriages to resume from Tuesday.
Lifting the ban will allow many lawsuits to see light at the end of the tunnel
According to Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the ACLU which challenged the ban, they expected all clerks to respect the ruling and were committed to ensuring marriage equality in all 67 counties in Florida and would like to hear from any couples that are wrongfully denied a license after the stay expires. Undoubtedly, the lifting of the ban is being celebrated by gay and lesbian couples all over Florida. They have been happy living in Florida for years as well because Florida does not have any state income tax.
In South Florida, celebrations included two rallies at the Palm Beach County courthouse in West Palm Beach. Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau plan to hold a gala of 100 weddings. Another celebration venue will be Miami Beach Botanical Gardens.
The Hinkle order will affect 10 lawsuits across the state. In Monroe and Miami-Dade same sex couples who sued county clerks will now have the right to marry. Divorce attorneys, in three lawsuits, one of which was in Broward County, will now be able to go ahead with divorce proceedings.
In Palm Beach County, a man suing to be recognized as the executor of his deceased husband’s estate can now go forth. It is said that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta can turn down this judgment. So could also the US Supreme Court. But for now same-sex couples have the right to marry.