A day after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear any cases on same-sex marriage from lower courts, the ACLU of Florida asked U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee to lift a stay he put in place Aug. 21, when he ruled Florida’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional.
“In light of yesterday’s pathbreaking development, (we) respectfully submit that the Court should lift the stay immediately,” states the five-page motion filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon. If granted, it would in effect legalize gay marriage in Florida.
As that motion was to be expected, Gov. Rick Scott delivered a noteworthy response.
“The Attorney General is defending Florida’s constitution, which is her duty,” said Scott in an email sent out by his spokesman, John Tupps. “This is a matter that will be decided by the courts. Whatever the eventual outcome is from the courts, Florida will of course abide with it.”
Never miss a local story.
Contrast that reaction to another Republican governor who had opposed gay marriage. Upon hearing the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared that the gay marriage ban was “over in Wisconsin.”
“I think it’s resolved,” Walker told reporters.
Scott, however, seemed to be doubling down, pushing the issue back to Attorney General Pam Bondi. Although Bondi has embraced her role in fighting to uphold the ban, saying she’s only defending Florida’s constitution, others say Scott should be the one to make the call.
“If Scott wants the courts to decide this, he should have read the newspaper this morning,” said Howard Simon, the executive director of ACLU of Florida. “The courts did decide it. Yesterday.”
He said Bondi was only doing her job by arguing to uphold the ban. He said her client was Scott, who Simon said was “evading his duty.”
“The governor could end this today if he wanted to,” Simon said. “Don’t put this all on Bondi. It’s time the governor recognizes the message that the U.S. Supreme Court has sent. It’s over. If Scott Walker can make that decision, so can Rick Scott.”
Bondi hasn't publicly questioned Scott's deference to her on the issue. Indeed, she's defended the ban with gusto. But she has said many times that she expected the Supreme Court to resolve the issue. During a televised debate on Monday, Bondi said after the decision that the Supreme Court could still resolve the issue.
"There are a lot of other cases in the pipeline," she said.
When asked about Scott's response to the ACLU motion, Bondi's spokeswoman, Jenn Meale, replied in an email: "We do not consent to the resolution sought in the motion."
Asked about Walker's response, Meale replied: "We are reviewing the impact of these decisions, as well as other cases around the country."