25+ amicus briefs urge the end of Florida’s same-sex marriage ban

By : Staff Report
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As confusion mounts over whether or not same-sex couples can wed throughout Florida on Jan. 6 or just in a lone panhandle county, diverse groups are filing amicus briefs to ensure all of the state’s couples have marriage rights after the first week of the new year.

According to Equality Florida, more than 25 unique amicus briefs have been or will be submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Groups include law enforcement officials—including Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor—faith leaders and city and county municipalities from across the Sunshine State.

The briefs ask the court to end the ban once and for all, and business community leaders stress the importance of marriage equality to the state’s economy.

“State laws and constitutions denying marriage to gay and lesbian citizens are bad for our businesses,” one brief representing the business community reads. “Amici are forced to bear unnecessary costs, complexity, and risk in managing our companies, and we are hampered in our efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible—all of which places us at a competitive disadvantage. Our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees, without distinction.”

Equality Florida hailed the briefs and focused on the diversity of the support coming from all corners of the state.

“The breadth and depth of these amici briefs demonstrate the groundswell of support for the freedom to marry,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, in a press release. “A Federal district court in Florida has now joined the 60 other state and federal courts—including four federal appellate courts—who over the past year have affirmed the freedom to marry and held the denial of marriage to be unconstitutional. We believe when the 11th Circuit justices consider this case and makes note of the diversity of support, they, too, will affirm the right of everyone to marry the person they love.”

On Aug. 21, a District Court judge ruled that Florida’s marriage ban is unconstitutional, but the ruling was stayed until Jan. 5, 2015. Just last week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to extend the stay, refusing to delay the freedom to marry in Florida. The stay will now expire on Jan. 5, even as the appeal in the Florida marriage cases proceed in the 11th Circuit. An oral argument in Atlanta, where the 11th Circuit is based, is not yet scheduled.

Florida is now just one of 15 states that does not recognize marriage equality.

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  • Aron Sasportas

    The fact that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied the State of Florida’s motion for an extension of the stay of execution of Judge Hinkle’s ruling and the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States did so too tell us that both courts will eventually rule in favor of marriage equality.

    What is needed now — before 5 January 2015 — is a ruling nunc pro tunc by Judge Hinkle that the state law barring Florida’s clerks of court from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples and registering their marriages violates the Constitution of the United States of America.

    For more on the current situation in Florida, see Reports 38a, 38b, 38c, and 38d in “Equal Human Rights and Civil Rights for All Persons, No Matter Their Gender, No Matter Their Sexual Orientation: An Interpretive Newsletter” (www.humciv.com).