In a startling move Monday night, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said she wants the Florida Supreme Court to decide once-and-for-all whether same-sex couples can marry in the Sunshine State.
“That is unquestionably an important issue, and the Plaintiffs, the State, and all citizens deserve a definitive answer,” Bondi’s office wrote in a 6 p.m. filing to the state’s Third District Court of Appeal. “Until recently, the issue was squarely before the United States Supreme Court, and it appeared that a definitive answer was coming. ... Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court decided not to answer the question.” Download Attorney general's motion to send marriage case to Florida Supreme Court
Last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court settled the gay marriage issue in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, along with Wisconsin and Indiana, when it announced justices would not hear appeals in federal court decisions allowing same-sex marriages in those states. Since then, same-sex couples have also been allowed to wed in North Carolina, Idaho and Alaska. Now, 59 percent of Americans live in at least 30 states were same-sex marriage is legal, according to Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT activist group.
On July 17, Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared Florida’s 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, ruling against Bondi, whose office defended the ban. He ordered that a Key West couple, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, had the right to marry, but an automatic stay in the case prevented the nuptials. On July 25, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel also declared Florida’s ban unconstitutional, finding in favor of six same-sex couples who want to marry. Her ruling also was stayed pending appeal.
The attorney general took both losses to the Miami-based Third District Court of Appeal, where the cases were consolidated. Lawyers for the plaintiffs asked the Florida Supreme Court to take the cases immediately, but Bondi asked to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court decided the issue.
Bondi, who is up for reelection in November, also said subsequent similar losses in Broward and Palm Beach counties, as well as federal court in Tallahassee, should be decided in Washington.
Since it is unlikely the U.S. Supreme Court will decide same-sex marriage anytime soon, Bondi has relented. Story here.