The ACLU of Florida on Thursday filed its response to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on why he and the court should not maintain a stay in Florida’s federal gay marriage case.
On Aug. 21, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle declared Florida’s 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional and ordered the state to recognize the out-of-state marriages of eight couples represented by the ACLU. Hinkle stayed his decision to give Bondi time to take the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta. His stay expires Jan. 5.
Two weeks ago, the 11th Circuit denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request to reinstate the stay. On Monday, Bondi asked Thomas, who oversees the 11th Circuit, to maintain the stay, which would prevent same-sex couples in Florida from marrying on Jan. 6.
Thomas gave plaintiffs in the case until 5 p.m. Thursday to respond.
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“Governor [Rick] Scott, his appointees, and Attorney General Pam Bondi’s efforts to delay the implementation of the order striking down the marriage ban are as senseless as they are incredibly harmful,” ACLU of Florida LGBT rights staff attorney Daniel Tilley said in a statement. “Every day that the couples we represent and the thousands of families across Florida who are also denied the protections of marriage go without those protections, they are suffering real harm, as Judge Hinkle’s order made plainly clear. We are glad to have had the opportunity to explain to our nation’s highest court why it is time to let love win in Florida, and we are hopeful that the Court will reject Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi’s increasingly-desperate efforts, just as it has refused all requests to stay rulings striking down discriminatory marriage bans since this October.”
From the ACLU response:
“The [plaintiffs] and other same-sex couples throughout Florida are subjected to irreparable harm every day they are forced to live without the security and protections that marriage provides. While this case remains pending on appeal, children will be born, spouses and partners will get sick, and some will die. The substantive legal protections afforded by marriage can be critical, if not life-changing, during such major life events and personal crises.”