By Steve Rothaus – srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
10/07/2014 3:48 PM | Updated: 10/07/2014 5:32 PM
The ACLU of Florida asked a federal judge in Tuesday to lift his stay and immediately allow gay marriage in Florida.
“In light of yesterday’s pathbreaking development, Plaintiffs respectfully submit that the Court should lift the stay immediately,” ACLU lawyers wrote to U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, based in Tallahassee, who on Aug. 21 ruled Florida’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional.
Hinkle said in August he would stay his ruling until after “the U.S. Supreme Court resolves the pending applications, at that time, from Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia,” according to Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida’s executive director.
On 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.
ACLU of Florida motion to lift stay
“The Supreme Court’s action yesterday shows that the Supreme Court has decided to let stand decisions — like this Court’s — enjoining as unconstitutional state laws that refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples,” ACLU lawyers wrote to Hinkle. “Although some courts in the past have issued stays in marriage cases based on the Supreme Court’s past issuance of similar stays, the Supreme Court’s action yesterday shows that it has reversed course.”
ACLU attorneys also told Hinkle that “the ongoing harms to many of Florida’s married same-sex couples are acute and in need of immediate resolution.”
“For example… Plaintiff Arlene Goldberg has been left financially vulnerable without access to her late wife’s Social Security benefits. Further, Plaintiffs Sarah Humlie and Lindsay Myers must pay hundreds of dollars per month to purchase insurance for Sarah because Lindsay’s public employer does not recognize their marriage.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said through a spokeswoman that her office opposes lifting the stay.
“As noted on page one of the plaintiffs’ motion, we do not consent to the resolution sought in the motion,” spokeswoman Jennifer Meale said. “We will respond within the appropriate time.”
The state has 17 days to reply, unless Hinkle orders Bondi to reply sooner, according to Stephen F. Rosenthal, an appellate attorney with Podhurst Orseck in Miami, who is working with the ACLU on the case.
This could force the case to play out just days before the Nov. 4 election. Both Bondi and Florida Gov. Rick Scott oppose lifting the gay-marriage ban and appealed Hinkle’s ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, where it awaits a hearing.
Also Tuesday, a federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, ruling that couples’ equal protection rights were being violated.
“The ruling paves the way for the freedom to marry in Alaska, Montana and Arizona,” states that also fall under the federal appeal court’s jurisdiction, according to the national Freedom to Marry group.
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia will now permit same-sex couples to marry and 65 percent of Americans live in states where it is legal, Freedom to Marry said.