Florida attorney general asks Supreme Court to stay same-sex marriages

by Will Hall, |

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Christian Examiner) -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has applied for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court to continue to block same-sex marriages in the state while it pursues an appeal of the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida which ordered a county clerk to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, temporarily stayed the order, then declined to extend the stay after it expires Jan. 5, 2015.

Bondi's office issued a statement saying the recent decision denying a longer stay "has created statewide confusion about the effect of the injunction, which is directed to only one of Florida's sixty-seven clerks of court." The press release emphasized that the state took the action "to maintain uniformity and order throughout Florida until final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage."

In 2008, Florida voters, by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent, approved The Marriage Protection Amendment which added Article I, Section 27 to the state constitution: Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, a Clinton appointee, in August overturned the voter initiative and threw out the state ban on same-sex unions, but stayed the effect of his order. When he declined to extend his original stay, set to expire shortly after the beginning of the new year, the state appealed to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta. That court, with ten Democrat appointees, eight Republican appointees and 2 vacancies, on Dec. 3 refused to grant Florida's petition to maintain the stay, creating the possibility of statewide marriages starting Jan. 6.

Kansas and South Carolina recently lost petitions to the nation's highest court when they asked for stays of federal court rulings that overturned their respective bans of same-sex marriages.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals became the first among the federal courts of appeal to acknowledge the validity of any of the 28 state referendums which voters passed to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The effect of its Nov. 6 ruling was to maintain the traditional definition of marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, each having appealed lower court rulings that had annulled voter initiatives in their respective states.

Writing the majority opinion, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton said each state in the Sixth Circuit "has long adhered to the traditional definition of marriage," and he also took a narrow view of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act which defined marriage in traditional terms. He said that ruling intentionally addressed the narrow question of whether the federal law was an "unprecedented intrusion into the States' authority over domestic relations" but that the decision did not address the validity of state marriage laws.

The Sixth Circuit is considered a conservative bench with a majority of its justices appointed by Republican presidents.

Not surprisingly, this trend of dramatic support for homosexual marriage by federal courts coincides with the changes President Obama has been able to effect in the makeup of the various judicial benches.

The New York Times reported Sept. 13 that for the first time in a decade "judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents" and that Democratic appointees who hear full cases "now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals."

In October, the Supreme Court announced it would not hear in its current docket any pending cases queued for possible consideration about the constitutionality of homosexual marriage. Legal analysts said the Sixth Court ruling makes a 2015 hearing inevitable.


6th Circuit: 32 million citizens of Ky, Mich, Ohio & Tenn have authority on marriage, not judges