Same-sex marriage has been legal in Florida since a judicial stay expired in January 2015. Same-sex marriage has been legal in the U.S. at large since the Supreme Court ruled on the issue last June. Now a federal judge wants to know: What's the holdup, Florida?
The Miami Herald reports Judge Robert L. Hinkle issued a ruling confirming the legality of same-sex marriage in Florida and had some harsh words for the state's leaders for taking their time complying with numerous court ruling on the issue.
“After the United States Supreme Court issued [its ruling], one might have expected immediate, unequivocal acceptance. Not so for the State of Florida,” Hinkle wrote, according to the Herald.
The ruling was the latest in the case of Brenner v. Scott, a long-running court battle by Tallahassee couple Jim Brenner and Chuck Jones to have the state recognize their marriage. And while the courts have consistently been on their side, they claim the state continues to drag its feet in related areas, such as providing state employee benefits and listing spouses on birth and death certificates.
State agencies argue that they are bound by state laws that require a "husband" and a "wife," but Hinkle wasn't very impressed by that argument.
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"The answer should be easy. The statutory reference to 'husband' cannot prevent equal treatment of a same-sex spouse," Hinkle wrote.
He also criticized the Florida Legislature for failing to overturn laws banning same-sex marriage that have been invalidated by court decisions. The Herald reports two such bills were filed during the 2016 Legislature session, but they did not get far in the Republican-controlled body.
Regardless of toothless laws, Brenner seemed satisfied with the ruling in an interview with the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
"This sets it in concrete for Florida," he told the Journal. "It is done. Finally."