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Why Marriage Equality in Florida Is a Sign of Good Things to Come

FloridaBY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

When last we spoke, the freedom to marry had just been handed a setback: the Sixth Circuit let stand marriage discrimination laws in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. Over the holiday season, though, we took many steps forward in defiance of that egregious and wrongheaded appellate court opinion: Marriage equality officially came to Montana and South Carolina. And although she tried every trick in her book, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could not stop the arc of justice from sweeping ashore in the Sunshine State.

The arrival of marriage freedom in Florida is particularly notable because of how it happened.

BondiIn Florida, a federal district court judge ruled in August that the state's marriage ban was unconstitutional; the judge stayed his decision until January 5, 2015. The Republicans running the state wanted to delay as much as possible as they appealed the judge's ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But neither the district court nor the circuit court would grant the state a stay beyond January 5. So, Attorney General Bondi asked the Supreme Court. The Court said no, with only Justice Scalia and Thomas willing to issue the stay.

Note the difference between South Carolina and Montana, on the one hand, and Florida on the other. South Carolina is under the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit, which declared Virginia's marriage ban unconstitutional some time ago. Montana is in the Ninth Circuit, which made a similar decision in Idaho's case in October. Because marriage equality was just steps away from all the other states in those jurisdictions as a result of the appellate court decisions, the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay in the South Carolina case.

Florida is in the Eleventh Circuit, which has not had occasion to rule on a gay marriage case. So the Supreme Court's refusal to grant a stay and to allow marriages to start in Florida was a stronger pro-equality signal than denying a stay in South Carolina.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Why Marriage Equality in Florida Is a Sign of Good Things to Come" »


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Says She Fought Against Gay Marriage Because She Wanted 'Uniformity' - VIDEO

Pam Bondi

Modern-day Anita Bryant Pam Bondi was stopped by News Service Florida to talk about the recent developments with the lifting of the ban on gay marriages in Florida. Though Bondi wished to extend the newly-married gay couples an insincere olive branch, she explained that her opposition to gay marriage was because she and her solicitor general just wanted "uniformity" throughout the state of Florida and the country.

Because total uniformity of a nation's citizens isn't a creepy idea with an abominable historical record. (Yes, she's talking about the uniformity of law, but the ban directly translates into the uniformity of the citizenry by restricting marriage rights exclusively to heterosexual couples and attempts to stigmatize homosexual couples.)

You can watch the interview with AG Bondi AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Says She Fought Against Gay Marriage Because She Wanted 'Uniformity' - VIDEO" »


More Than 500 Couples Gather in Miami To Renew Vows: VIDEO

Miamimarriages

Since same-sex marriage began in Florida on Monday, there have been many joyous celebrations had by newlyweds in the Sunshine State. However, as is often the case in states that at one time banned same-sex marriage, many gay couples in Florida had married outside the state in places where same-sex marriage was legal since they could not due so at home. Yesterday, over 500 such couples gathered in Miami to renew their vows and make it official in Florida. Miami New Times reports:

The atmosphere at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden was ecstatic as the couples -- who all had previously married in other states where gay unions were legal -- officially re-tied the knot in South Beach.

More than 500 attended the event, where Mayor Phillip Levine promised to make Miami Beach an international LGBT destination where weddings are now part of the agenda.

"In Miami Beach, when it comes to LGBT rights, there's no question," he told the Miami Herald. "It's a yes vote."

Watch the celebrations, AFTER THE JUMP...

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For Bush and Other 2016 GOP Hopefuls Dithering On Gay Marriage Could Be Dangerous: VIDEO

Hardball

Jeb Bush’s mixed, ham-handed statements about Florida’s new-found status as the latest state to legalize gay marriage is emblematic of the precarious political position that the 2016 Republican hopeful finds himself in. As the GOP struggles to reevaluate its public perceptions, Bush, who has suggested that he has his eye on the White House, has to be careful about his own image. As one of the only Republicans currently thought to have a legitimate shot at the Presidency, the former Florida governor can’t afford to rely on traditional conservative rhetoric to win over potential voters. This, obviously, is easier said than done.

Jeb_bush“Republicans like Bush eyeing a possible 2016 bid can’t just drop the issue altogether,” writes Emma Margolin for MSNBC. “They’re still faced with having to appeal to the party’s socially conservative primary voters, many of whom are older, religious and value the concept of traditional marriage”:

“The challenge for these potential GOP hopefuls is to win over the social conservatives in a way that doesn’t completely destroy their chances of winning the general election – something that the past two Republican nominees have been unable to accomplish.”

Bush’s political history regarding gay marriage has varied over time, ranging from backing George W. Bush’s efforts to make all same-sex unions unconstitutional to his more recent fumbling that suggest a sort of political apathy. Whether Bush’s newfound brand of moderate conservatism is merely lip service remains to be seen but, as GOP strategist Keith Appell logics, Bush will eventually have to choose a side.

“You need to be firmly on one side or the other; any time you seem to be equivocating is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “This statement is fine. I think that’s probably going to be the statement, or some version of the statement, where most Republican presidential candidates are going to come down.”

Watch Hardball's Chris Matthews dig into Bush's marriage equality conundrum,
AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "For Bush and Other 2016 GOP Hopefuls Dithering On Gay Marriage Could Be Dangerous: VIDEO" »


Archdiocese of Miami Threatens To Fire Employees For Showing Support For Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Miami

Following the overhaul of Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski issued a letter (below) to employees of the archdiocese warning that any conduct or behavior “inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church", in other words, in support of same-sex marriage, could result in termination. NBC News reports:

The letter, from Archbishop Thomas Wenski, told employees that "because of the Church’s particular function in society, certain conduct, inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, could lead to disciplinary action, including termination, even if it occurs outside the normal working day and outside the strict confines of work performed by the employee for the Archdiocese.”

Wenski’s letter also warned employees that the conduct requirements also extend to the Internet. “Employees should exercise discretion when posting on social media sites, and note that online activity indicative of prohibitive behaviors may subject an employee to disciplinary action or termination," it read.

Earlier, Florida's Catholic Bishops came out against the arrival of same-sex marriage in the Sunshine State, claiming same-sex marriage “threatens both religious liberty and the freedom of individuals to conscientiously object.”

Late last year Pope Francis was thought to have been sending mixed messages about whether he and the Catholic Church would reconsider their stance on same-sex marriage. However, following media speculation, the Pope was quick to make a statement clarifying that same-sex marriage was not on the table for discussion.

Watch a news report on the letter from the Miami Archdiocese, AFTER THE JUMP...

Letter

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Out Chef Art Smith to Throw 101 Gay Weddings At Miami Beach Hotel

Smithmiami

With same-sex marriage now legal in Florida, out celebrity chef Art Smith has announced he will be joining forces with the James Royal Palm Hotel in Miami to throw a special wedding officiated by a mystery celebrity on Saturday, February 21st for 101 lucky gay couples, NewTimes Miami reports:

The event, coinciding with the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where Chef Smith cohosted the Big Gay Ice Cream Social, will feature food by some of Miami's best chefs, a party with a celebrity DJ, and a special cake created by Duff Goldman, star of Food Network's Ace of Cakes. 

The first 101 couples to tweet to @ChefArtSmith using #101GayWeddings will be invited to participate in the free wedding, complete with a celebrity minister to officiate the ceremony. Although the officiant has yet to be announced, it was assured that the person will be a "really big name." 

Each couple will be able to invite two guests to share the big day. Couples do not have to be Florida residents to enter but will have pay for travel to Miami if they're from out of town. 

An afterparty, in lieu of the Big Gay Ice Cream Social, is also being planned, with proceeds benefiting local LBGT charities. More info when that's announced.

Smith married his partner back in 2010 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.


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