Florida attorney general Pam Bondi is making one last-ditch attempt to extend the hold on marriage equality in Florida past January 5.
Federal district judge Robert Hinkle ruled the statewide ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in August but allowed time for the state to appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals until January 5. Bondi is now petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the stay after the 11th Circuit denied a request for extension earlier this month.
“The recent decision denying a longer stay has created statewide confusion about the effect of the injunction, which is directed to only one of Florida’s 67 clerks of court,” reads a news release from Bondi’s office. “In a continuation of the effort to maintain uniformity and order throughout Florida until final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage, the attorney general’s office filed with the United States Supreme Court an application to extend the stay.”
Bondi is asking that the stay be extended for the duration of the appeal or, alternatively, until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take up one of the four cases stemming from the Sixth Circuit Court decision to uphold marriage bans in four states, according to the petition filed directly with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees the 11th Circuit. Thomas is likely to confer with the rest of the justices, according to the Miami Herald.
Pro-equality groups in the state are calling the petition Bondi’s last stand against marriage equality.
“This late effort is her attempt to delay what is inevitable progress in human rights,” Howard Stein, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, told The Tampa Tribune. “What is the point of trying to prevent couples from marrying and prevent couples who have already been married from having their marriages recognized in Florida — which is scheduled to begin January 6th?”
The petition’s claim that the decision is causing confusion and applies only to Washington County Clerk of Courts has drawn criticism, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Daniel Tilley, an ACLU staff attorney, said Hinkle's decision applies to all clerks.
“I don’t think concerns about confusion are sincere or that they in any event overcome the very real and substantial harms that continue to befall families across this state,” Tilley told the Times.