The road to legalizing same-sex marriage here in Florida has been a long one filled with twists and turns and even some litigation. Even though two circuit court decisions struck down the ban on same-sex marriage here in our state, a formal appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi back in November left residents here in Hillsborough County, as well as the rest of the state, in a sort of legal limbo . It left a major question unanswered: was same-sex marriage legal?
At the start of the New Year, that question received an answer when federal judge Robert Hinkle also overturned the same-sex marriage ban, giving all county clerks in Florida the ability to issue same-sex marriage licenses starting January 6. Although this order could be overturned by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals or even the U.S. Supreme Court, for now, Bondi says that "Florida's fight [has] largely come to an end."
Hinkle's decision, as you may soon realize, clears up much of the confusion some county clerks were having about their ability to issue marriage license to same-sex couples. According to Hinkle, there should be no confusion now regarding whether it is lawful or not to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple in Florida. His decision is all encompassing -- all county clerks can do so if they decide to.
On top of clearing up confusion about the right to marry, other court decisions have cleared up other family law issues for same-sex couples such as the right to get a divorce and the right to act as executor of a deceased partner's estate. The hope is that Hinkle's decision will also provide clarification on other legal issues facing same-sex couples, such as child custody and adoption, in the near future.
Source: The Sun Sentinel, "Federal judge orders Florida clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses," Dan Sweeney, Jan. 1, 2015