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Barriers to Same-Sex Marriage in Florida Continue

In spite of the important decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, the legal battle between Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi and same-sex couples continues to drag on. Specifically, the state has not done anything to remove Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage from the law since it was declared unconstitutional last year, which still technically allows the state to enforce the gay marriage prohibition because it remains on the books. The ban remains lifted only because of the orders of the court last year, in spite of the state’s efforts to enforce the ban.

When Judge Hinkle ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, he issued a preliminary injunction against the law, but he also placed a stay on his decision, which expired earlier this year when gay marriages became legal throughout Florida. Meanwhile, under the direction of Bondi, the state of Florida has fought to resist Hinkle’s lift of the ban by appealing to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and requesting that the Supreme Court intervene (prior to its recent decision). Bondi has also requested that Hinkle clarify his order regarding issuance of birth certificates to children of same-sex couples, which is still pending.

Aside from these challenges, evidently, Bondi also asked a federal appeals court to dismiss the case that she brought as moot since the Supreme Court’s decision, allegedly to avoid paying plaintiff’s legal fees.

What Does This Mean?

Your legal right to marry—and all of the associated benefits—is still protected. This includes all of the rights that heterosexual couples have always enjoyed, including the ability to make major medical decisions for your spouse, as well as health-insurance benefits and estate-related rights for all couples.

In fact, starting in October, Florida’s court clerks have been asked to start using new marriage and divorce forms, which have the words “husband” and “wife” taken out and instead use the word “spouse.” The same issue applies to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which recently approached Governor Rick Scott and the state Cabinet with a proposed rule change to change “husband and wife” to “a married couple” regarding transfers of titles on vehicles and boats. In addition, state Rep. Alan Williams of Tallahassee has had to file a measure (HB 4019) to change parts of the state law that address marriage licenses. The bill—slated for the 2016 legislative session—would eliminate the part of the law which allows for marriage licenses to be issued only if one party is “male” and the other “female.”

Florida Family Law/LGBT Attorney

Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. is proud to serve LGBT communities and is available to help couples with any aspect of marriage and family planning issues, including their rights to marriage equality and any associated processes. Contact our office in Broward County today so that we can assist you.

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