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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A group representing Florida’s court clerks said on Tuesday that counties statewide should not start issuing marriage licenses January 6th to same-sex couples.

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Attorneys for the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers issued a memo last week advising that a federal judge’s decision striking down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage only applies to issuing licenses in Washington County. That Panhandle county is home to two plaintiffs who successfully challenged the ban.

Equality Florida, a group that has helped lead efforts to overturn the ban, issued a news release Monday arguing that the ban should end January 6th throughout the state, and it threatened legal action against court clerks who do not issue marriage licenses.

But Kenneth A. Kent, executive director of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, issued a statement Tuesday saying his group’s legal position “remains unchanged.”

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in August found the ban unconstitutional but placed a stay on his ruling. That stay is scheduled to expire at the end of the day January 5th.

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“Our general counsel has advised us that established case law makes it clear that the order of a trial court, including the federal district court in this case, is not binding on any other court,” Kent said in the statement. “Further, it is the understanding of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers that the only courts that can bring judicial clarity to this question through a binding, statewide decision are the U.S. Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court or a Florida District Court of Appeals. Absent a ruling from one of those three bodies, our opinion, as previously presented by our general counsel, will not change.”

The statement added, however, that the group’s general counsel has recommended the Washington County clerk file an emergency motion with Hinkle to seek clarification about the intended scope of his ruling.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”


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