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Same-Sex Marriages Legal in FL

Posted on: January 9th, 2015
same sex marriageShortly after the United States Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex marriage ban in Florida was unconstitutional, court clerks were warned not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until ‘clarification’ of the ruling is settled. The ruling was clarified on January 1, 2015, but here is how the ruling unfolded:

Since the summer of 2014, the same-sex marriage ban in the Sunshine State was ruled unconstitutional per United States District Judge Robert Hinkle. He presided over the Brenner v. Scott (joined with Grimsley v. Scott) case that involved nearly two dozen individuals including same-sex couples, plus the LGBT-right group SAVE, who collectively sued the state. As part of his ruling, Judge Hinkle stated the ban violates “equal protection” and “due process” provisions in the Constitution. Judge Hinkle issued a stay on his order to allow appeals. Until a higher court addresses the ruling, marriage licenses will not be issued to same-sex couples in Florida. The end of the appeals period is slated for January 5, 2015.

On December 19, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request to extent Hinkle’s stay, which means the state could start issuing licenses on January 6, 2015. Not only would the state start issuing licenses, but it would also start recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. However, according to CNN:
Neither the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals nor the Supreme Court have ruled on the merits, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has defended the ban, has expressed "confusion" over whether all 67 counties will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples before appeals are settled.

According to court documents and news reports, some officials such as Bondi take the position that Judge Hinkle’s ruling is only directed and applicable toward the one Leon county clerk involved in the Brenner v. Scott case. Court officials sought ‘clarification’ of whether or not the ruling will apply to all counties in Florida or just Leon. Previously, Bondi appealed prior rulings striking down the ban in Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

On December 23, 2014, the Florida Clerks & Comptrollers Association announced that Judge Hinkle’s ruling will apply only in Leon County courts. However, most recently on January 1, 2015, Hinkle clarified his original order. Hinkle instructed all 67 Florida clerks that they are bound by the United States Constitution and must not enforce the marriage ban.

Same-sex couples in Florida who remain unmarried have estate planning options that can help provide their partners with legal rights and protections. Our LGBT estate planning lawyers in Miami review estate planning for same-sex couples here
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