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Florida Marriage Equality Round-Up – December 6th

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

We’re doing a special edition of the round-up just for Florida marriage equality today – as same sex weddings begin.

Statewide: Attorney General Pam Bondi has conceded defeat, saying “The judge has ruled, and we wish these couples the best.” full story

Statewide: Watermark has a great guide to getting married in Florida. full story

Statewide: Watermark has also posted their own round-up of marriage equality ceremonies and celebrations in the state. full story

Statewide: Matt Baume profiles the guys still trying to stop Florida marriage equality. full story

Statewide: Jeb Bush has clarified his earlier statement on marriage equality: “We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law. I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.” full story

Statewide: Now that Florida has marriage equality, 70% of Americans live in a marriage equality state. full story

Statewide: The new wikipedia marriage equality map features Florida. full story

Wikipedia Marriage Equality Map

Statewide: So does the Dallas Voice map. full story

Dallas Voice marriage equality map

Broward County: Joe.My.God has video of same sex couples marrying just after midnight in Fort Lauderdale. full story

Escambia County: Hundreds of marriage equality supporters filled Seville Quarter in Pensacola for a party honoring same-sex couples’ right to get married. full story

Hillsborough County: County Clerk of Court Pat Frank may waive the usual three day waiting period to get married. full story

Leon County: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is inviting same sex couples in counties that have discontinued courthouse weddings to come to his city to get married. full story

Miami/Dade County: A state judge lifted her stay a day early in Miami, so same sex couples began marrying there first yesterday. full story

Miami/Dade County: Plaintiffs Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto were the first to receive a marriage license in the county. full story

Monroe County: The gay Key West plaintiffs married at midnight. full story

Orange County: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer hosted a mass same sex wedding at 9 AM – video. full story

Orange County: Wedding planners say they expect Orlando to become a marriage equality mecca. full story

Palm Beach County: Marriage equality supporters held a mass same sex wedding in Palm Beach at midnight. full story

All Florida Counties Must Follow Marriage Equality Ruling on 1/6, Judge Says

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Rainbow FloridaThe Federal Judge who issued the marriage equality ruling in Washington County said last night that the ruling applies to all 67 counties in the state.

Watermark Online reports:

Federal Judge Robert Hinkle – who ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional back in August – has issued his order on the scope of his ruling. “The founders of this republic adopted a Constitution and a system for its enforcement,” Hinkle’s ruling reads. “When there are disagreements about what the Constitution requires, those who are affected may seek a definitive ruling in court. These plaintiffs did that in this case. The Secretary and Surgeon General–as duly empowered officials of the State of Florida, represented by the Attorney General–joined issue. So did the Clerk. The result was an explicit ruling that Florida’s same-sex- marriage ban is unconstitutional.”

And Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says her office will get out of the way.

Watermark reports:

In response to a federal judge’s Dec. 31 order stating his ruling, which declared Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, applies statewide, Pam Bondi released the following statement: “This office has sought to minimize confusion and uncertainty, and we are glad the Court has provided additional guidance. My office will not stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed.”

It looks unlikely that anything else will get in the way of Florida marriage equality before the 6th.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

Florida Marriage Equality on 1/6 After Supreme Court Declines to Extend Stay

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Rainbow FloridaMarriage equality will come to Florida next month after the US Supreme Court declined to extend the stay on a pro same sex marriage ruling.

Watermark reports:

Same-sex weddings may soon begin in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block them. The court said Friday it wouldn’t block the marriages. A federal judge previously declared Florida’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and said same-sex marriage licenses could start being issued in the state after Jan. 5 unless the Supreme Court intervened. Most federal judges and appeals courts have ruled against state bans and gay marriages are occurring in about three dozen states. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has upheld the right of four states to decide whether to allow gay marriage.

Florida becomes the 36th state with marriage equality, and the biggest in awhile, with large LGBT populations in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Key West.

Full Story at Watermark Online | Florida Wedding Vendors

Florida Marriage Equality Could Arrive on January 5th

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Florida From SpaceThe Eleventh Circuit declined to extend a stay on a marriage equality ruling yesterday, meaning that same sex weddings could begin on 1/5 if the Supreme Court doesn’t intervene.

Watermark reports:

The 11th District Court of Appeals has denied the state’s request to extand a stay on same-sex marriages. That means the stay, put in place by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, expires Jan. 5 – at the end of the day, so marriages wouldn’t actually begin until Jan. 6. “Appellants’ request for expedited review of the Motion is granted,” the Dec. 3 ruling reads. “Having reviewed and fully considered the Motion, the parties’ briefs, and the orders issued by the District Court in the proceedings below, the Court hereby denies Appellants’ Motion. The stay of preliminary injunctions entered by the District Court expires at the end of the day on January 5, 2015.”

Florida would be the largest state in a while to get marriage equality – imagine the weddings in Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach and Key West!

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

Federal Judge Overturns Mississippi Marriage Equality Ban

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Mississippi MapJust hours after the Arkansas decision, a federal judge also overturned the marriage equality ban in Mississippi.

The Washington Blade reports:

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves issued his 72-page ruling less than two weeks after he heard oral arguments in the case the Campaign for Southern Equality last month filed on behalf of two lesbian couples seeking marriage rights in the Magnolia State. “The court concludes that Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban deprives same-sex couples and their children of equal dignity under the law,” writes Reeves. “Gay and lesbian citizens cannot be subjected to such second-class citizenship.” Reeves, an African American who President Obama appointed to the federal bench in 2010, referenced the civil rights movement throughout his decision.

The judge also noted that discrimination against gays is not over in the state:

Reeves in his decision also noted Mississippi lawmakers earlier this year approved a measure – Senate Bill 2681 – that opponents contend allows business owners to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs. SB 2681 took effect on July 1. “Discrimination against gay and lesbian Mississippians is not ancient history,” writes Reeves.

The ruling has been stayed for two weeks, pending appeal.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Mississippi.

Federal Judge Overturns Arkansas Marriage Equality Ban

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

ArkansasA federal judge just struck down the state’s ban on marriage equality.

The Washington Blade reports:

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, an Obama appointee, wrote in a 45-page decision that Arkansas’ prohibition on gay nuptials, known as Amendment 83, violates the fundamental right to marriage protected by Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “As demonstrated, a most searching examination of Separate Defendants’ proposed reasons for Arkansas’s marriage laws reveals that these laws are not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest,” Baker writes. “The bases Separate Defendants suggest for upholding Amendment 83 and the challenged statutes, primarily encouraging procreation and ensuring the best interests of children, in addition to the laws’ mismatched means, do not withstand strict scrutiny.”

Queerty flags some of the best quotes from the decision, including:

These cases underscore that the drafters of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments “knew times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.”

The judge stayed her own decision, so there will be no same-sex weddings immediately.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

Marriage Equality Comes to Montana

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

MontanaA federal judge struck down the ban on marriage equality in Montana yesterday.

The Washington Blade reports:

In an 18-page decision, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, struck down the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage on the basis of an earlier decision in favor of marriage equality by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana. “No family wants to deprive its precious children of the chance to marry the loves of their lives,” Morris writes. “Montana no longer can deprive Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves.” Applying heightened scrutiny, or a greater assumption a law is unconstitutional, to Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage, Morris writes that state officials defending the marriage ban in court failed under that standard “to justify the discrimination engendered by the Montana laws that ban same-sex marriage.

No stay was issued on the ruling, so same-sex couples immediately started seeking marriage licenses.

The Charlotte Observer reports:

Gay couples were expected to line up for marriage licenses Thursday at county courthouses across Montana after a federal judge tossed out the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. At least two counties — Missoula and Park — started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Wednesday, while court clerks elsewhere geared up to do so Thursday.

Among the first Montana couples to get their licenses on Wednesday were Amy Wagner, 56, and Karen Langebeck, 48, of Livingston, who have been together for 22 years. After hearing about the ruling at 2 p.m. MST, they got on the road to get their license. “Being able to get married and introduce Karen as my wife — that’s a big deal. Now I have a way to describe this relationship that everybody understands,” Wagner said.

Friend of the blog Matt Baume has compiled some of the best quotes from the decision, including:

Antigay attorneys love to rely on the Baker case, in which a 1972 dismissal from the U.S. Supreme Court stated that marriage equality wasn’t a federal issue. That was 42 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Nevertheless, state attorneys keep bringing it up to try to persuade courts that they shouldn’t weigh in; and courts keep shooting that argument down. “Baker no longer precludes consideration of challenges to the constitutionality of laws that prohibit same-sex marriage,” Judge Morris wrote.

Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is thrilled with the decision.

Joe.My.God reports:

“Today’s decision ensures we are closer to fulfilling our promise of freedom, dignity, and equality for all Montanans. It is a day to celebrate our progress, while recognizing the qualities that bind us as Montanans: a desire to make a good life for ourselves and our families, while providing greater opportunities to the next generation. I have instructed my administration to quickly take all appropriate steps to ensure that we are recognizing and affording the same rights and responsibilities to legally married same-sex couples that all married Montanans have long enjoyed.”

But the Montana Family Foundation is not.

Joe.My.God reports:

“I am heartbroken for the people of Montana who have had the redefinition of marriage forced on them by an out-of-control federal judiciary. I am also grieved for the children of same-sex couples who have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. While we mourn the direction of a misguided judiciary, we’re encouraged by the fact that natural marriage was enshrined in 31 state Constitutions, and a recent Pew poll showed that support for same-sex marriage has dropped by 5% in the past 3 months. While the courts believe same-sex marriage is a settled issue, it’s anything but settled in the hearts and minds of the people. While we’re disappointed in the decision, we will not despair, we will not throw in the towel and we will not give up. As Cicero once said, ‘Time obliterates the fictions of opinion and confirms the decisions of nature.'”

Republican Atty. Gen. Tim Fox has already vowed to appeal the ruling.

Joe.My.God reports:

“It is the attorney general’s sworn duty to uphold and defend Montana’s constitution until such time as there is no further review or no appeal can be made in a court of law. Fulfilling that duty, the state of Montana will appeal this ruling in light of the fact that there are conflicting federal court decisions and no final word from the U.S. Supreme Court.”

All we can say is “good luck with that.”

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Montana.

Michigan Domestic Partnership Ban Overturned

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

MichiganA federal judge has finally officially overturned Michigan’s ban on getting benefits for couples in domestic partnerships.

Think Progress reports:

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the state’s law banning the same-sex partners of public employees from receiving benefits is unconstitutional. The law in question was passed just back in 2011. It specifically infringed on municipalities that were already providing benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of city employees. Five couples whose benefits were cut by the law’s passage filed the complaint that led to this decision. Judge David Lawson, a Clinton appointee, pointed out that the marriage rulings are not relevant in this case because “this is case is not about marriage.” Rather, he wrote, it has to do with whether a state “may adopt a narrow definition of family, and pass laws that penalize those unions and households that do not conform.” Only public employees with same-sex partners are impacted by the law, he explained, and it imposes a significant financial burden on them by cutting their benefits.

It’s a small but symbolic victory for the LGBT community in a state that was just burned by the anti-marriage equality decision at the 6th Circuit. And it has huge ramifications for the couples involved.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Michigan.

Federal Judge Strikes Down South Carolina Marriage Equality Ban

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

South Carolina MapOK, it’s official – a Federal Judge in South Carolina just struck down the state’s ban on marriage equality.

The Washington Blade reports:

In a 26-page decision issued on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel, an Obama appointee, determines the South Carolina’s ban on gay nuptials violates same-sex couples’ rights to equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Gergel bases his decision on an earlier ruling from the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals against the marriage ban in Virginia, which lies in the same judicial circuit as South Carolina. “While a party is certainly free to argue against precedent, even very recent precedent, the Fourth Circuit has exhaustively addressed the issues raised by Defendants and firmly and unambiguously recognized a fundamental right of same sex couples to marry and the power of the federal courts to address and vindicate that right,” Gergel writes.

The ruling has been stayed until November 20th.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Marriage Equality USA Community Call on Sixth Circuit Hearing Tonight

Monday, November 10th, 2014

MEUSA Conference CallPlease join Marriage Equality USA and partners for a national COMMUNITY CALL to be held on the evening of Monday, November 10th to discuss the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals marriage equality ruling.

TIME OF CALL: 6pm PT / 7pm MT / 8pm CT / 9pm ET

Sign up now for the call!

On 6 November 2014, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled in marriage equality cases Bourke v. Beshear from Kentucky, DeBoer v. Snyder from Michigan, Obergefell v. Hodges and Henry v. Hodges from Ohio, and Tanco v. Haslam from Tennessee.

The Court ruled against equality, with the exception of of dissenting Judge Martha Daughtry, upholding the existing state bans on same-sex marriage and overtunring the lower court decisions in those states. There is much debate as to what happens next and if this ruling, which resulted in a Circuit Court split, will ensure that marriage will be addressed by the Supreme Court of the United States.

You are invited to our Community Call to discuss the ruling, to hear community reaction, and to ask questions about what this means for the marriage equality movement. This call is open to all supporters of marriage equality and allies — feel free to share this info!

Participants on the call will include: Chris Stoll, Senior Staff Attorney, National Center for Lesbian Rights; Larry Dupuis, Legal Director, ACLU of Wisconsin; Kathleen Perrin, Director, Equality Case Files; and host John Lewis, Director of Legal and Policy, Marriage Equality USA. The call will be moderated by Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA.

To receive the call in information, sign up now! All attendees will receive the call information on the morning of Wednesday, August 6.