Why, why, why is it always Florida? In an issue similar to the hanging chads of yesteryear, Florida is in a state of confusion yet again, this time over gay marriage licenses. In every Florida county where a court has ruled on the issue, the courts have ruled that failure to marry gay couples violates the Constitution. Our Republican Attorney General, Pam Bondi, has thrown a tizzy of legal filings everywhere from counties that ruled to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.
Bottom line so far is that, while the 11th issued a temporary stay of the ruling compelling gay marriage licenses to issue, that stay ends January 5. They refused to extend it. The Supreme Court has also just refused to stay the ruling. So gay marriage becomes officially the law in Florida January 6. Right?
Here comes the confusion. A law firm, Greenberg Traurig (and shame on them), advised the clerks of court that they might face criminal penalties if they issue gay marriage licenses on January 6. They told the clerks that the case legalizing gay marriage only applies to Washington County. Other lawyers say they're dead wrong. I think they're dead wrong. Every single public official in Florida swears to uphold the Constitution. Refusing to issue the licenses violates the Constitution. If they aren't removed from office for refusing to uphold the Constitution in one of these lawsuits,
As a result, couples planning to get licenses January 6 will need to pay close attention to the law and legal wrangling over the next couple weeks.
Flagler County is the only county so far that has said it is definitely issuing licenses January 6. Kudos to Gail Wadsworth for upholding her oath. UPDATE: AP reports that Osceola County is the only county that responded affirmatively when they asked, so whether or not Flagler County will issue licenses is unclear. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has announced he plans to officiate a wedding on January 6. Osceola County has been sued as a result of their announcement.
So far, the following clerks have indicated that they are "ready" to issue licenses January 6 (Whatever that means - are they going to do it? Still unclear):
The Monroe County clerk says she wants to be the first clerk to marry a gay couple, so hopefully she'll actually do it and break the ice.
Collier County is still undecided. AP says 6 clerks are undecided, but didn't say which 6.
The following clerks' offices have said they will not issue gay marriage licenses January 6 (unless a court makes them do it), and thus are on my official Roll Of Shame (UPDATE: AP says 46 responded to them that they would not issue licenses, but they didn't share their list):
No official word yet from Washington County as to whether and whey they will comply with the ruling in the case that started all the confusion. Here's their website, if you want to follow the issue yourself. UPDATE: Last word was they were seeking clarification as to whether they had to issue one license, only to the couple who sued, or issue to anyone who applies. Facepalm. In the meantime, I'll keep updating you on this important issue.
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