Florida Family Action sues over marriage licenses

By : Jamie Hyman
Comments: 2

The Liberty Counsel – representing the Florida Family Action – has filed preemptive lawsuits against Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Osceola Clerk of Courts Andrew Ramirez, and Orange County Circuit Judge Robert Leblanc.

Florida Family Action is the anti-gay group helmed by local attorney John Stemberger. The suits are in response to the news that Ramirez plans to issue same-sex marriage licenses Jan. 6, and Mayor Dyer and Judge Leblanc have announced plans to lead same-sex marriage ceremonies on that date.

Jan. 6 is a key date because it’s when a stay on issuing marriage licenses expires. That stay stems from an August ruling by federal Judge Robert Hinkle overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

However, the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers attorneys have twice warned that Hinkle’s ruling only applies in Washington County, and clerks in other counties could face criminal charges if they issue licenses.

Since then, clerks in most Florida counties have either stated that they’ll hold off on issuing licenses until the Association updates their recommendation or a court order clarifies the issue, with exception of Osceola County. Ramirez told Watermark that not only will he issue licenses to same-sex couples Jan. 6, but he will open his office for two hours at midnight to get things started early.

The FFA wants the court to tell Ramirez that he’s not allowed to do that.

“FFAI respectfully petitions this Court to issue an alternative writ of mandamus prior to January 6, 2015, commanding the Osceola Clerk to perform his ministerial duty to deny any application for a marriage license by a same-sex couple, unless and until he appears before this Court on a day certain and obtains modification or nullification of such writ, together with such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper,” the lawsuit states, adding that the case should be expedited.

The suit against Mayor Dyer and Judge Leblanc makes essentially the same request.

This might all be moot. Currently, the state and pro-equality legal teams are awaiting clarification from Judge Hinkle regarding the scope of his ruling. He asked the parties involved to issue statements and the deadline was last night – a ruling could come at any time.

Additionally, a Miami Dade judge has set a hearing for 11 a.m. Jan. 5 to address the Miami Clerk’s motion for a clarification about the stay on same-sex marriage. It’s possible Hinkle could rule on tonight’s filings before then.

Read the lawsuit against the Osceola Clerk: 123014_Complaint_-_Mandamus_to_Osceola_County_Clerk_AS_FILED_12-29-14

Read the lawsuit against Orlando mayor and Judge: 123014_Complaint_-_Mandamus_to_Orlando_Mayor_and_Judge

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