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Florida Judge Says Clerks Have Legal Duty to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
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Summary: A judge in the state of Florida has told court clerks that same-sex marriage licenses can be issued. 

The judge in Florida who ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional has issued a response to those questioning his ruling, according to WESH.


Judge Robert Hinkle said this week that all of the Florida clerks of court who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will violate the U.S. Constitution. The judge noted that those clerks could face lawsuits or other legal issues.

“Reasonable people can debate whether the ruling in this case was correct and who it binds. There should be no debate, however, on the question whether a clerk of court may follow the ruling, even for marriage-license applicants who are not parties to this case,” Judge Hinkle said.

To read more about same-sex marriage in Florida, click here.

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Hinkle’s response is right in line with an order issued by Judge Timothy R. Shea this week. Judge Shea approved Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell in Orange County to begin issuing the licenses beginning on January 6.

Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General, issued a statement that says her office will not stop clerks from issuing the same-sex marriage licenses.

“This office has sought to minimize confusion and uncertainty, and we are glad the court has provided additional guidance. My office will not stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed,” Bondi said.

To read more about Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, click here.

An attorney for Florida Family Action, which filed a lawsuit that asked for an emergency injunction to prevent the issuance of the licenses, issued a statement on Judge Hinkle’s response:

“Judge Hinkle’s ruling is being widely misinterpreted. It clearly says that only the clerk Washington County is required to issue a marriage license and only to the two persons in that case.  Judge Hinkle has no jurisdiction outside of the Northern District of Florida to bind any clerk outside of North Florida. Clerk’s outside of North Florida are required to obey the current law and are still subject to all the penalties of a first-degree misdemeanor for violating it,” said John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council.

To read more legal news stories, click here.

An attorney representing same-sex couples in Florida, Mary Meeks, said the following:

“The Florida Legal Team is thrilled that Judge Hinkle has emphatically made clear that his prior order holding the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional requires all Florida clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples beginning January 6.”

Will clerks begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses on January 6 in Florida? Use our poll to share your thoughts.

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