US: Florida clerks will refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A number of clerks in Florida have indicated that they plan to disobey orders from a court and continue to ban same-sex weddings.

Same-sex weddings are set to begin in Florida from January 5, when a stay expires on a court ruling striking down the state’s marriage ban.

However, the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers circulated a memo advising clerks not to issue licenses after the deadline – which they claim is only intended to apply to Washington County.

Pro-gay group Equality Florida plans to make a stand against any clerks that don’t issue licenses, and has threatened to take individual clerks to court if they ban gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

Nadine Smith said: “Clerks can stand in the doorway and try to block equality or they can welcome gay couples who have waited for decades for this moment.

“We expect every Clerk to uphold their oath and protect the constitutional rights of gay couples seeking marriage licenses. No legal firm’s memo overrides their clear legal obligation.”

Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. added: “Any Florida clerk who refuses to follow the Constitution’s command and who withholds marriage licenses from couples once the stay expires is on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law.

“A discredited memo from a law firm won’t provide much protection against the risk of being sued for unconstitutional actions and being held liable for any damages — and attorney fees — incurred by couples as a result of withholding the freedom to marry.

“There is one Constitution, Florida is one state, and all Floridians are entitled to equal treatment throughout the state.”

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