Following rulings by three state judges striking down Florida’s same-sex marriage ban, the state’s attorney general is arguing the U.S. Supreme Court should resolve the issue.
In documents filed late Thursday with Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeals, Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) wrote that neither the appeals court nor the Florida Supreme Court “can decide this federal issue with finality.”
“A ruling from the United States Supreme Court would end the constitutional debate, end this appeal, and end all related cases,” the filing states. “The State of Florida will respect the United States Supreme Court’s final word. In the meantime, this Court should preserve taxpayer and judicial resources by staying briefing until the United States Supreme Court rules.”
Bondi, who is defending the Florida ban, cited petitions filed earlier this week asking the Supreme Court to hear cases challenging Utah’s and Oklahoma’s respective same-sex marriage bans. “[T]he Supreme Court’s order on the pending certiorari petition is likely not far away,” the filing states. On Friday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also formally asked the Supreme Court to hear a case challenging that state’s same-sex marriage ban.
“Despite the vigorous policy and legal debates surrounding same-sex marriage, there is little disagreement about this: If the United States Supreme Court holds that States must sanction same-sex marriage, then Florida’s contrary laws must fall,” the motion states. “And if the United States Supreme Court holds that States may choose, then Plaintiffs’ contrary legal claims must fall, and it would be up to Florida’s voters to effect any change. Either way, this appeal would be over, and it would end without consuming any further taxpayer resources and without burdening Florida’s judiciary.”
Three circuit court judges in as many weeks have found Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Attorneys for plaintiffs in two of those cases, which applied only to Monroe County and Miami-Dade County, filed to have their cases consolidated. Although Bondi found no objection to consolidating the cases, she disagreed with an attempt to allow the cases to go directly to the Florida Supreme Court for resolution.
“Because the United States Supreme Court is in position to resolve the issue, there is no immediate need for a Florida Supreme Court decision,” the filing states.
On Monday, a circuit court judge found Florida law prohibiting same-sex marriage and the recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in other states unconstitutional in a third case concerning a woman seeking to dissolve an out-of-state civil union with another woman.