TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Gay rights activists in Florida believe the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Monday sealed the deal for same-sex marriage in the state.
The Supreme Court did not rule on the issue of gay marriage as a right, but refused to hear appeals from eleven states where gay marriage is banned, and the bans have been overturned by lower courts. Activists believe the high court has put the judicial handwriting on the wall, and sealed the fate of states they said have stubbornly refused to recognize the human right to marry – regardless of gender.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Stratton Pollitzer of the civil rights group, Equality Florida. “Any day that eleven more states and 52 million more people get marriage equality is a day we’re going to celebrate.”
In January, six Miami-Dade same-sex couples filed suit in state court seeking to overturn Florida’s ban on gay weddings. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel overturned the ban in July, calling it an “insult to human dignity.”
The same week, a state judge in Key West declared the state constitution’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. State and federal judges across the state and nation have issued similar rulings.
Monday’s U.S. Supreme court decision to tell eleven states to take their appeals and go away may prove to be a national game changer.
“It’s given us more wind under our sails,” said Jorge Diaz on Tuesday.
Diaz and his longtime partner, Don Johnson, are among the six Miami-Dade couples who sued and won in state court.
“We’re one day closer to consummating our marriage and to solemnizing it, and memorializing our relationship and be treated as equals,” Diaz said.
Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi have appealed the pile of rulings supporting gay marriage, and have given no indication Monday’s Supreme Court decision will change their minds.
“The voters of the state have decided marriage will be between a man and a woman, traditional marriage. It’s gone to the courts,” said a defiant Scott during an interview in July.
But thus far, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage has been shot down by every judge who’s judged it. And now the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated an appeal would be a loser if it makes it to Washington, DC.
Scott and Bondi issued statements Monday and Tuesday giving no indication they are prepared to back down, but Scott said Florida would abide by any ultimate court ruling.
Activists called on the state to drop a “hopeless appeal” and let Florida join the majority of the country in “ushering in marriage equality.”
“We are ready to celebrate with Pam Bondi the moment she gets on the right side of this issue,” said Equality Florida’s Pollitzer. “The same with Rick Scott.”
Capitulation in the state capitol may not be necessary, however.
The American Civil Liberties Union petitioned a federal judge in Tallahassee Tuesday to lift his stay of his order declaring Florida’s gay marriage ban illegal. If he should vacate the stay, gay couples in Florida could be saying “I do” in a matter of days.
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