LGBTQ South Florida

Pam Bondi officially drops appeal of Miami-Dade, Keys same-sex marriage cases

Jan. 5, 2015: Same-sex couples in Miami celebrate Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel's lifting of the legal stay she had placed on her July decision declaring the wedding ban discriminatory.
Jan. 5, 2015: Same-sex couples in Miami celebrate Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel's lifting of the legal stay she had placed on her July decision declaring the wedding ban discriminatory. Miami Herald File

Eleven days after the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex couples have the right to marry everywhere in America, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday officially dropped her appeal of the state’s first two gay marriage victories, in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

One year after Bondi became a national symbol in the conservative fight against gay marriage, she submitted one sentence just before 5 p.m. to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal: “Pursuant to Rule 9.350(b) of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Appellant State of Florida hereby voluntarily dismisses these appeals.”

Said Miami Beach attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who helped represented six same-sex couples in the Miami-Dade case: “We are grateful that this misguided attempt at defending an indefensibly bigoted law has at long-last been abandoned.”

In July 2014, Monroe Circuit Judge Luis Garcia and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel each declared Florida’s 2008 gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Those cases, involving a total of eight same-sex couples from throughout South Florida, were consolidated after Bondi appealed the decisions to the state’s Third DCA.

On Aug. 21, 2014, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee also declared the marriage ban unconstitutional. Hinkle stayed his ruling until Jan. 5, allowing Bondi to appeal that case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

As the clock ticked on Hinkle’s stay, Bondi frantically asked the Atlanta court, then the Supreme Court to keep it in place. Justices on both courts denied her request.

On Jan. 5, Zabel allowed Florida’s first same-sex couples to marry in her courtroom chambers. Same-sex couples throughout the state began marrying just after midnight on Jan. 6.

The Atlanta appeals court never heard the Florida case: On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled in a similar case that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry everywhere in the United States.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments