Thursday, July 17, 2014

Marriage equality victory — in Florida!

Attorney General Pam Bondi will appeal the historic Monroe County ruling.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 2:31 PM

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UPDATE: Attorney General Pam Bondi's office has, no surprise, announced that she will appeal Judge Garcia's decision. Here's the full transcript of Garcia's historic ruling and the State of Florida's notice of appeal.

In a conference call with LGBT leaders this afternoon, Stratton Politzer of Equality Florida said that Bondi's appeal, which puts an automatic stay against any marriage licenses being issued in Monroe County, was not unexpected, and that the process is likely to take several months.

However, the plus side of the case going to the Third District Court of Appeal is that, if Bondi is unsuccessful and Garcia's ruling is allowed to stand, the appeals court decision would apply statewide, not just in Monroe County.

The marriage equality juggernaut just keeps rolling on, and today, amazingly enough, it rolled into Florida.

Here's a report from the Human Rights Campaign:

Today Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia, appointed by Republican Governor Jeb Bush, ruled against Florida’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, making the Sunshine State the latest to see such a ban struck down in court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June. In Huntsman v. Heavilin, attorneys with the law offices of Restivo, Reilly & Vigil-Fariñas LLC sued the state on behalf of a same-sex couple who argue that Florida’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. In his ruling, Judge Garcia wrote, “This court concludes that a citizen’s right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual.” The ruling was stayed until Tuesday, July 22, at which point same-sex couples in Monroe County can begin obtaining marriage licenses, unless a stay is requested by the state attorney general and granted by the state court of appeals or Florida Supreme Court.

There are currently four other marriage equality cases pending in Florida. Equality Florida  in its analysis of all five cases, included this prescient quote from the plaintiffs in the Monroe County case, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones: "I really feel Monroe County — Key West — if it's going to be done anywhere, it’s going to be done here."

In the wake of this decision, Equality Florida is holding Decision Day celebrations across the state, including gatherings today in St. Petersburg at King of Peace Church at 6 p.m. and at Unity Tampa at 6 p.m. For more information, go to

According to the HRC, there have been 16 consecutive federal court decisions in support of marriage equality since last year's historic Supreme Court ruling in United States vs. Windsor, which struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.

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