The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
on Wednesday refused to block a ruling that struck down Florida's ban
on gay marriage from taking effect next month.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of
Tallahassee declared the ban invalid on Thursday, August 21 but
stayed his order pending an appeal. On November 5, he ordered
Florida officials to begin issuing marriage licenses and recognizing
the out-of-state marriages of gay couples starting on January 6.
Florida asked the Eleventh Circuit to
block Hinkle's order from taking effect. In a brief
3-page order, a 3-judge panel refused, saying: “Having reviewed
and fully considered the Motion, the parties' briefs, and the orders
issued by the District Court in the proceedings below, the Court
hereby denies Appellants' Motion.”
Plaintiffs in the case, Brenner v.
Scott, include 10 gay couples, including 1 seeking to get
married, and SAVE, an LGBT rights advocate. The ACLU of Florida
represents some couples in the case.
“The Court effectively ruled that the
State does not have a likelihood of succeeding in its appeal,” ACLU
of Florida Attorney Daniel Tilley said in an emailed statement. “The
stories of the individuals represented in our case demonstrate that
Florida's ban on marriages for same-sex couples hurts Florida
families, and we are hopeful that that harm will finally be coming to
an end soon.”
Florida officials are likely to attempt
a last-ditch request to the Supreme Court, but justices have
consistently denied such requests since October 6, when they turned
away appeals in cases challenging bans in five states.
Two additional states, Georgia and
Alabama, are under the Eleventh Circuit's jurisdiction.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Marry, applauded the ruling.
“The 11th Circuit did the right thing
today by refusing to delay marriages for same-sex couples in Florida
any longer,” Wolfson said in a statement. “As the first joyful
weddings take place, Floridians will see firsthand that the freedom
to marry helps families and communities, and harms no one. And
against this backdrop of happy families and more marriages, we hope
the court soon hands down a final ruling that ensures that all
committed couples in the Sunshine State, as well as Georgia and
Alabama, finally have the freedom to marry the person they love.”