By Stephanie Brito
Beginning this Tuesday, same-sex couples throughout Florida will be granted marriage licenses.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee has been instrumental in clearing the way for gay couples through his announcement on New Year’s Day, requiring all clerks of court to issue these marriage licenses.
On August 21, 2014, Judge Hinkle issued an opinion ruling citing constitutional examples on why the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. On top of lifting Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, Hinkle also said that any clerk who refuses to issue a license will be violating the U.S. Constitution and can be sued.
One of the most powerful opponents towards same-sex marriage, Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, said in regards to the court decision in a released statement:
“My office will not stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed.”
Judge Hinkle gave the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court 91 days to take the case, but since the appeal was refused his decision will stand and clerks will begin to issue marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m., Jan. 6.
“I think it shouldn’t have taken this long for a state to allow same-sex couples to marry because marriage isn’t a privilege, it’s a right,” said Elizabeth Ruiz, a junior at Mater Lakes Academy who identifies as a lesbian.
Florida will become the 36th state to repeal bans on same-sex marriage, but the repeal is also met with resistance, especially since Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 to ban same-sex marriage.
Since then, the political landscape in Florida has evolved. Charlie Christ, Republican governor at the time, supported the constitutional amendment wholeheartedly. But in 2014, when he ran for governor as a Democrat he supported lifting the ban.
Regardless of resistance, Tuesday will be a day for celebration for gay couples that have waited years to get married. Broward Clerk Howard Forman plans to host a mass wedding at 3 a.m. Some may even get married on Monday.
“This is a huge stepping stone for the LGBT community in the state of Florida because it impacts all of us, gay or not. It shows that we are moving away from the bigotry that has crowded America for decades,” said Ruiz.