Plaintiffs, Florida Continue Battling in Gay-Marriage Case

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Gainesville newlyweds Karen NiederKohr (right) and Lola Yousey (left) walk out of the Alachua County Courthouse on Tuesday, Jan. 6 after receiving their marriage licenses.
Gainesville newlyweds Karen NiederKohr (right) and Lola Yousey walk out of the Alachua County Courthouse on Jan. 6, 2015, after receiving their marriage licenses. (File/WUFT News)

About nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry, a legal debate continues about whether a federal judge should issue a permanent injunction against Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in August 2014 issued a preliminary injunction against the ban and, ultimately, allowed same-sex marriages to start in Florida in January 2015.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in June 2015 in a case from other states, known as the Obergefell decision. But the Florida case has remained pending in federal court in Tallahassee, and attorneys for the state filed a document Wednesday arguing it is unnecessary for Hinkle to issue a permanent injunction because the issues have been resolved.

“It has now been more than 14 months since this court’s preliminary injunction took effect and nine months since the Supreme Court decided Obergefell,” the state document said. “No plaintiff in these consolidated cases has claimed that any defendant violated this court’s preliminary injunction, nor has any other party intervened to allege violations of the preliminary injunction. Same-sex marriages have occurred, death certificates have been issued, and state employees have enrolled same-sex spouses in benefits.”

But plaintiffs in the case filed a motion March 2 seeking a summary judgment and a permanent injunction. Their attorneys pointed, in part, to a dispute about the state issuing birth certificates to same-sex couples.

“The defendants’ (state officials’) strenuous attempts to narrow the scope of this court’s order and the Obergefell holding through litigation raises serious questions that other benefits that flow from the right to marry will be stripped away once the preliminary injunction is lifted,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote.

About Michael Stone

Michael is an editor who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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