MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Same-sex weddings could begin as soon as January 6, 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to block gay marriages in Florida.
It was the latest of about three dozen states allowing same-sex weddings.
In a one-paragraph order, the court decided not to step into the Florida case. 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.
“January 6th, we’re getting married,” Cathy Pareto exclaimed from the Coconut Grove home she shares with her partner, Karla Arguello, and their son, Enzo.
Pareto and Arguello have been together for 15 years. They are one of the couples named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit aimed at legalizing gay marriage.
“We want to see our family get recognized legally,” Arguello told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana.
Most federal judges and appeals courts have ruled against state bans, but 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 Attorney General Pam Bondi has fought to uphold Florida’s constitutional ban, which voters approved in 2008.
Bondi said if the ban was struck down, some, but not all, county clerks in Florida would begin issuing marriage licenses, causing confusion throughout the state. She said that would happen because the lawsuit against Florida’s ban only named the clerk in tiny Washington County in the Panhandle.
In response, Attorney General Pam Bondi issued the following statement:
“Tonight, the United States Supreme Court denied the State’s request for a stay in the case before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Regardless of the ruling it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on January 5.”
“We knew that this was going to be a long drawn out battle,” Pareto said. “But we were hopeful that at the end of all that process love is louder. And it is, and here we are!”
The state clerks association has warned its members that they could be risking misdemeanor prosecution under state law if they issue licenses before the question is fully settled. It is unclear how many plan to take that advice.
State judges in four South Florida counties have declared the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but those decisions are also being appealed by Bondi and no marriage licenses have been issued.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in August declared the state’s ban unconstitutional, but he put his ruling on hold until after Jan. 5 pending appeals.
Like many other judges and appellate courts, Hinkle ruled the state’s gay marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.
“They’ve cleared the path for us to get married,” Pareto said. “After 15 years, it’s about time. It’s our Christmas present. It’s the best present ever.”
CBS 4 reached out to the Christian Family Coalition for comment.
The group has been very vocal against same sex marriage in the past.
As of 11 p.m. Friday, we had not heard back.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]