|Judge Robert Hinkle,|
Northern District of Florida
Judge Hinkle stayed his opinion until January 5th to allow the State of Florida to pursue an appeal. While it has not been heard by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, that Court refused to extend the stay beyond the January 5th date. Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court, through Justice Thomas, denied the request by the Florida Attorney General for an extension of the stay to prevent the state from recognizing the marriages of eight gay and lesbian couples.
Confusion now reigns in Florida over the effect of Judge Hinkle's decision. Or pretend confusion, I would say. Opponents of same sex marriage, say the decision only applies to the litigants involved in the case or, at the most, Washington County, where the lawsuit originated. Proponents of same sex marriage say that the decision applies all throughout Florida Lawyers for Washington County have filed an "emergency motion" asking Judge Hinkle to clarify his decision.
But Washington County and the State of Florida found an ally for the insipid conclusion that Judge Hinkle's decision only has limited effect, a memo from the well-known Florida law firm Greenberg Traurig. That legal advice is summed up in the Florida Court Clerks & Comptroller's Association statement:
“The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers’ opinion regarding the legality of issuing same-gender marriage licenses in the State of Florida, as previously stated by our general counsel, remains unchanged. Numerous cases support the holding that the denial of the state’s motion to stay by the U.S. Supreme Court last Friday was not a decision on the issue of same-gender marriage.
“The Clerks of the Court remain committed to their duties as constitutional officers. And, to further gain clarity, our general counsel has recommended that the Washington County Clerk consider filing an emergency motion with the Federal District Court seeking clarification as to who the court’s injunction was intended to apply.”