Marriages began in Miami-Dade County today when Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay she placed on her decision last July that the state’s ban on marriage was unconstitutional. Judges in several counties ruled separately for their local jurisdictions that the ban was illegal. Her lifting the ban brings her ruling in compliance with the statewide order allowing marriage to begin tomorrow.
Florida becomes marriage equality state No. 36 (*sort of) as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6.
After Judge Robert Hinkle found the state’s marriage law violates due process and equal protection. He stayed his decision to give the state time to pursue an appeals, but put an expiration date of Jan. 5 (today) on the stay.
Both the 11th Circuit and the Supreme Court refused to extend the stay.
So marriage equality comes to Florida tomorrow, Jan. 6, at one minute after midnight.
But not without some kicking and screaming.
After Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas declined to extend the Florida stay until the court could consider an appeal, the Tallahassee law firm of Greenberg Traurig, legal counsel to the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers, sent a letter to the state’s county clerks claiming they could be arrested if they issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The firm claims the ruling only applies to Washington County in the Panhandle and only to the couple that sued.
In response, Hinkle wrote on Jan. 1 that the ruling applies to the entire state and clerks could be held personally liable financially if they do not issue licenses to all couples.
The county clerks in several conservative north Florida counties responded by saying they will issue licenses, but marriage ceremonies will no longer take place in the the county courthouses in order to avoid … well, complying.
Missouri is sort of also a marriage equality state but licenses are not being issued statewide. A ruling in October forced the state to recognize all marriages performed out-of-state. A ruling later in the year applied only in St. Louis. So St. Louis is issuing licenses and the entire state is recognizing marriages, but it’s no0t in the marriage equality state count.
All Kansas county clerks were ordered to issue marriage licenses, even if they really, really didn’t want to. But in it’s decision, the court didn’t specify that not only did Kansas have to issue those licenses, but they had to recognize them. So they’re not.