U.S. Supreme Court refuses to delay the freedom to marry in FL; marriages to begin in Jan

On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Florida's request to extend a stay in a federal ruling in favor of the freedom to marry from August, meaning that the stay will be lifted on January 5, and same-sex couples will be able to marry starting on January 6. This decision underscores that there is no reason to delay the freedom to marry for all loving, committed couples in Florida.

The August ruling was in Armstrong v. Brenner and Secretary, and Florida Dept. of Health v. Grimsley, two federal marriage cases filed last year seeking to overturn Florida's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Grimsley and Albu v. Scott was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida on March 13, 2014 on behalf of SAVE, an LGBT organization in Miami and eight married same-sex couples seeking respect for their marriages legally performed in other states. Brenner v. Scott was filed by private counsel on March 6, 2014 on behalf of a same-sex couple who married in Canada and now live in Tallahassee. The couple was seeking legal respect in Florida for their marriage license, and named Gov. Rick Scott and FL Attorney General Bondi in their lawsuit. Later, an unmarried same-sex couple was added as a plaintiff couple in Brenner v. Scott.

On August 21, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and respect for marriages legally performed between same-sex couples in other states in these two federal marriage cases. The ruling was stayed until 91 days after action from the U.S. Supreme Court, and on October 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in five federal marriage cases, the countdown to the stay expiration began, with the stay set to expire on January 5.

Previously this year, the state of Florida sought extensions from the District Court judge and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, but both parties denied the request.

While same-sex couples marry in Florida next month, the case will proceed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. There, a ruling in favor of the freedom to marry end the denial of marriage to same-sex couples for good in Florida.

Read more about litigation in Florida here.