June July 2016
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The Advocate

The Land Time Forgot: Same-Sex Marriage Bans Persist in Florida

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Although June 26, 2015, will forever be enshrined as the day marriage was declared an equal right for all Americans, Florida Republicans haven’t exactly rushed to embrace that new reality in the Sunshine State’s law books. 

Florida’s state constitution was amended in 2008 to include a ban on same-sex marriage. That voter-approved ban was declared in violation of the U.S. Constitution by a federal judge in Tallahassee in 2014. 

The amendment remains on the books, as does a statutory ban that predates it, and other antigay laws, the News Service of Florida reports. Getting the Republican-controlled legislature to change any of this is unlikely in the final weeks of this session, which ends next month, and in this election year, according to the news service.

It would take another public vote to amend the state constitution, the service reports, but there is a bill to repeal the statutory ban. Also pending are a bill offering legal protection to pastors who refuse to officiate at same-sex weddings (something already provided by First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) and a measure to give lesbian mothers the opportunity to choose to be named “parent” instead of “father” on birth certificates. According to the news service, only the birth certificate bill stands a chance of passing this session. 

Florida is one of just four states in the nation that have yet to update their language on birth certificates since the marriage ruling, Rep. David Richardson, one of only two openly gay state lawmakers, told the service. Two lesbian couples are among those trying to circumvent the legislature by asking a federal judge to order the state Department of Health to update its birth certificate forms. 

But the courts represent yet another legal quagmire. In October an appeals court tossed out the state’s case attempting to overridee the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. The appeals court recommended that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issue a final order and consider a reimbursement the plaintiffs' attorneys’ fees. They are asking for $455,000 for their work on the case.

And that same judge has been asked to resolve the issue of birth certificates too, according to the service, but he has yet to decide anything. 

So Florida remains the land where unconstitutional, unenforceable laws remain on the books.

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