“Wedding Bells” for Homosexuals in Florida
In January, 2015, the temporary ban on the nuptials was lifted and Florida became the 36th state to allow gay couples to wed. US District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a clarifying order on New Year’s Day that all of Florida’s county clerks have a legal duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples seeking to wed.
Same sex marriages have been much in debate for some time. On August 21, 2014, the U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle issued the first federal ruling that struck down Florida’s 2008 marriage amendment which allowed only heterosexual couples to legally wed. It is noteworthy that the Florida ‘Definition of Marriage’ Amendment, also known as Amendment 2 was initiated as constitutional amendment in November 2008 in Florida and was subsequently approved. (See Brenner v. Scott, 999 F. Supp. 2d 1278 (2014)) The amendment added a new section to Article 1 of the Florida Constitution which read-
Section 2: “All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire, possess and protect property; except that the ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship may be regulated or prohibited by law. No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or physical disability.”
The state continued the legal defense of its constitutional definition of marriage as a heterosexual union. The Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block same-sex marriage commencing the following month. According to media reports Bondi specifically demanded the Court to intervene into the matter and put a stay over the issue, thus, discouraging same sex marriage. However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the request.
With the ban lifted, it has cleared the path for gay couples and given them the much awaited opportunity to get married. Miami-Dade became the first county in the state to allow gay couples to wed.
While the U.S. Supreme Court has now agreed to hear a case challenging same-sex marriage bans in four states in the Sixth Circuit. A nationwide decision by the Court is expected by late June 2015.