(San Francisco, CA, January 1, 2015)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) applauds today’s ruling by Federal District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle confirming that, when the stay of his prior order invalidating Florida’s ban on marriage by same-sex couples expires on January 5, 2015, the federal Constitution requires that all Florida county clerks must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“Today’s ruling confirms that all Florida county clerks must comply with the federal Constitution by issuing marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples beginning on January 6, 2015,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of Equality Florida Institute Monday urging Judge Hinkle to confirm the statewide scope of his earlier ruling. “This is a great victory for same-sex couples and their families throughout Florida.”
On August 21, 2014, Judge Hinkle ruled that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the equal protection and due process requirements of the federal Constitution and stayed his ruling through January 5, 2015. Both the Eleventh Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently denied the State of Florida’s request to extend the stay. Last week, the Washington County Clerk filed a motion asking Judge Hinkle to clarify whether his ruling applied to same-sex couples other than the plaintiffs in the case.
On December 23, 2014 NCLR and Equality Florida Institute sent a memorandum to all of Florida’s county clerks, explaining that they were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on January 6, 2015. In addition, on December 29, 2014, NCLR submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Equality Florida Institute to Judge Hinkle, urging him to confirm the statewide impact of his prior ruling. Today’s ruling from Judge Hinkle makes clear that the federal Constitution requires all Florida county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning January 6, 2015. Judge Hinkle’s order also makes clear that clerks who do not comply with the federal Constitution’s requirements face serious liability for denying Floridians their constitutional rights.