News from Tallahassee for 7/23/14

Judge won’t lift Florida Keys gay marriage stay posted on 7/22/14

by AP

MIAMI — A Florida Keys judge — who last week ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional — refused Monday to allow gay couples to begin marrying in Monroe County, citing a pending appeal by the state attorney general.

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia rejected a motion to allow immediate weddings filed by attorneys for Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, a pair of Key West bartenders whose lawsuit successfully challenged the ban. Garcia ruled last week that the ban on same-sex marriage added to the state constitution by Florida voters in 2008 is discriminatory and violates gay people’s right to equal treatment under the law.

Garcia initially ruled marriage licenses could be issued in Monroe County beginning Tuesday to gay couples. But that was blocked by an automatic stay triggered when Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately filed notice that the state will appeal.

Bondi’s office filed papers later Monday urging Garcia to keep the stay in place and preserve the status quo until all appeals are sorted out and Garcia agreed. That means no gay marriages can take place while Garcia’s original ruling is reviewed by the Miami-based 3rd District Court of Appeal, which could take weeks or months to issue a decision.

In their motion, three attorneys for Huntsman and Jones wrote that gays are suffering harm because they cannot marry in Monroe County despite the judge’s ruling and because the state is unlikely to ultimately win an appeal. Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions against state marriage limits around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

“Every day that goes by, plaintiffs and other same-sex couples are being deprived of important constitutional rights and suffering additional serious, ongoing, and irreparable dignitary, legal and economic harms,” the motion says.

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Weekly Roundup: It's All About the Appeal posted on 7/21/14


It was a week of appeal-related decisions, both legal and political, that could have far-reaching implications.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz shocked Capitol insiders when they announced they would not appeal Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis' ruling last week striking down the Legislature's congressional map. Instead, the legislative leaders want Lewis to let lawmakers wait until after the November elections -- when Gaetz and Weatherford will no longer be in power -- to redraw the Northeast and Central Florida districts at the heart of Lewis' ruling.

Attorney General Pam Bondi ignored the pleas of gay couples and gay-rights advocates who won a first-of-its-kind ruling in Florida in a lawsuit challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Bondi immediately filed a notice to appeal a Monroe County judge's decision that found the voter-approved ban violates due process and U.S. constitutional protections against discrimination.

And former Gov. Charlie Crist, trying to make a comeback as a Democrat, enlisted Annette Taddeo to be his running-mate in what some consider a "two-fer" in his efforts to appeal to Latino and women voters, both blocs whose support is considered critical to Crist's bid to overthrow Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

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Monroe court strikes down gay marriage ban posted on 7/18/14

by Dan Sweeney | Sun Sentinel

It took state Attorney General Pam Bondi just two hours Thursday to appeal a Monroe County judge's ruling that the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

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Gov. Scott signs hit-and-run law posted on 7/17/14

by Marc Caputo | Miami Herald

On Wednesday, under rainy skies near the scene of the crime that took Cohen’s life, Gov. Rick Scott held a ceremonial bill-signing to draw attention to the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, which increases penalties on drivers in fatal hit-and-run crashes.

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Redistricting sides jostle over whether to redraw congressional lines now posted on 7/17/14

by Aaron Deslatte | Tallahassee Bureau Chief

Florida's fight over "fair" congressional lines has left policymakers and the court in a paradox: require voters throughout Central Florida to cast ballots on illegal maps, or potentially invalidate some votes already cast.

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