News (USA)

Florida county asks federal judge to clarify same-sex marriage ruling

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The county at the center of Florida’s same-sex marriage debate wants a judge to clarify his order allowing a same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license there.

In a motion filed late Tuesday, Washington County asked a federal judge to say whether his ruling applies to just one couple or to all same-sex couple seeking a marriage license in the county, or elsewhere in Florida.

The Panhandle county became the focus of Florida’s gay marriage debate after a lawsuit filed by two men seeking to be married there became a key basis for an August ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle that declared the state ban unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, Hinkle asked two state agencies to offer their positions by next Monday.

Hinkle put his ruling on hold until Jan. 5. Both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court have refused to extend that stay.

Many of Florida’s county clerks say they will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming the ruling applies only to Washington County, citing a memo issued earlier last week to clerks from the legal counsel to the Florida Association of Clerks and Comptrollers.

As of Wednesday, of the 53 clerks who responded to an inquiry by the Associated Press, 46 said they wouldn’t grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because they lack legal authority. Six clerks said they hadn’t made up their minds; Only one clerk outside Washington County, Osceola County’s Armando Ramirez, said he would issue the licenses. Fourteen clerks did not respond.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

Document courtesy Equality Case Files. [ Full screen ]

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