Florida AG appeals same-sex marriage rulings in state, federal appeals courts

Attorney General Pam Bondi (R-Fla.)

Attorney General Pam Bondi (R-Fla.) AP

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed appeals in both state and federal appeals courts, seeking to overturn a number of rulings declaring Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional by declaring that the trial courts’ rulings “were wrong.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi (R-Fla.)AP

Attorney General Pam Bondi (R-Fla.)

On Monday, Bondi asked the state’s Third District Court of Appeals to overrule two South Florida judges who overturned the ban, reports the Miami Herald.

The appeals come in the rulings by Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia, who declared the ban unconstitutional on July 17 in a case brought by a Key West couple, and a July 25 ruling by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel in a case brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of six same-sex couples.

“These consolidated appeals raise the question whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution bars the State of Florida from defining marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman,” Bondi wrote in the appeal.

“Florida has long defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In 2008, voters amended the Florida Constitution to reaffirm that policy. The United States Constitution does not prohibit Florida or its voters from making that choice, and the trial courts’ contrary conclusions were wrong,” Bondi wrote. “As the United States Supreme Court has recognized, States have the virtually exclusive authority to define and regulate marriage.”

On Friday, Bondi also filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, seeking to overturn a similar ruling by a federal judge.

Bondi, under the direction of Gov. Rick Scott, is contesting an Aug. 21 decision by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee that allows same-sex marriage and the recognition of those marriages performed elsewhere, reports the Herald.

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Hinkle has issued a stay on his decision until January 5, 2015. Couples will be able to marry or gain recognition on Jan. 6 unless the federal appeals court extends the stay.

The Florida ruling would be the first marriage equality case to be heard by the 11th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

Over the weekend, Bondi was elected to chair the Republican Attorneys General Association. The Associated press reports that in the last four years, Bondi has accepted more than $51,000 worth of meals, hotels and free trips, many of which were paid for by the GOP organization.

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