Pam Bondi Hub

Gay Florida Couple Encounters Another Benefits Roadblock Despite Successful Lawsuit Against State

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Jim Brenner and Chuck Jones, the gay Tallahassee couple who successfully sued the state of Florida over denial of spousal benefits, encountered another roadblock as the Department of Management Services recently told the couple they couldn’t change their pension plan, reports The Tallahassee Democrat:

On Friday, Brenner was told by a DMS official that despite [Judge Robert] Hinkle's ruling, he would not be able to pick the option he wanted in the first place. He said he was told by DMS that under Florida law, he could only make changes to the plan within the first month of entering DROP, a time that has long since passed. Brenner said a personnel official at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services tried to intervene on his behalf but also was told no by DMS.

"I feel like I'm being made to beg for what I'm entitled to," said Brenner, fire-management administrator for the Florida Forest Service. "It was one of the original reasons for us filing the lawsuit. And now we're being told we're not entitled. It's our perception that the judge told us we are."

DMS officials, however, announced on Tuesday afternoon that they’re working on a plan to resolve the issue. Said DMS communications director Kendra Parsons:

"The Department of Management Services is developing a plan to contact all (Florida Retirement System) recipients and provide them necessary information on how to receive spousal benefits in light of the court's recent decision,"


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


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.


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" »

Florida AG Pam Bondi Extends Insincere Olive Branch to the Gay Couples She Fought So Hard Against

After months of fighting tooth and nail to keep gay couples as second class citizens in Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi is accepting the inevitable and waving the white flag...for now.

The Miami Herald reports:

Bondi"The judge has ruled, and we wish these couples the best,'' said Bondi spokesman Whitney Ray in a statement. [...]

Ray said there has been no decision as to whether Bondi will continue to pursue the appeal before the 11th Circuit.

John Stemberg, director of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council which initiated the constitutional ban on gay marriage, said he believes that Bondi has exhausted all legal options. He remains hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue and restore the state's right to ban same-sex marriage. 

"There could be an appeal to the 11th Circuit but I'm not sure how successful that would be given the fact that they've kicked it back once,'' he said. "She's done her job, and that's all we could ask of her, and she's done it well." 

Same-sex couples can already marry in Miami-Dade county. All other counties will begin issuing licenses tomorrow. Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, a gay couple whose legal fight against Florida's gay marriage ban has been in the headlines for months, will marry LIVE in Key West after midnight tonight. 

Previously, "Tampa Bay Times Names 'Modern-Day Anita Bryant' Pam Bondi Its 'Loser of 2014'" [tlrd]

Conservative Group Sues to Block Marriage Equality from Taking Effect in Florida Next Week


Florida Family Action, Inc, a conservative group led by anti-gay wingnut John Stemberger (above), filed lawsuits on Tuesday seeking to stop marriage equality from going into effect on January 6 when a stay of U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle's ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban expires, the AP reports:

DyerThe officials named in the lawsuits are Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (pictured, right) and Circuit Judge Robert LeBlanc.

The conservative group argued the lifting of the state's ban on same-sex marriage applies to only Washington County in the Panhandle, where the legal challenge originated.

Ramirez is the only Florida clerk of courts outside of Washington County who has publicly said he will issue licenses to same-sex couples, according to a survey of clerk of courts done by The Associated Press last week.

Dyer and LeBlanc have said they plan to officiate at same-sex weddings on Jan. 6, the day Florida's ban on gay marriage is scheduled to be lifted.

Said Stemberger of the suits:

"All three of these officials have shown great contempt and disrespect for the rule of law and are behaving irresponsibly and unprofessionally. The federal court decision is clear that it only applies narrowly to the two plaintiffs and only in Washington County. Elected officials must be held accountable to the law and to the constitution they have sworn to uphold. Part of the reason for the recent landslide mid-term election was the utter disregard and insolence shown by President Obama for the rule of law which is now infecting so many other politicians across America. Respect for law must be restored or else legitimacy in government as an institution will diminish at an even greater rate. Ultimately, if these local officials continue in this same reckless pattern of behavior, they could easily face the same fate as so many other politicians did who are now retired as a result of the last election."

Stemberger said in July that the fight against same-sex marriage is "worth dying for."

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked Hinkle late on Monday to clarify the scope of his ruling, asking him to specify whether it applies to clerks throughout the state. A majority of the 67 county clerks in Florida have said they will not issue marriage licenses to gay couples unless it is clarified.

Florida Family Action also filed a brief in the case arguing that the judge cannot expand the scope of his ruling to include any other clerk in the state.

4:14-cv-00107 #106 by Equality Case Files

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Asks Federal Judge to Clarify Scope of Gay Marriage Ruling

Bondi1In a late Monday response to Washington County's emergency motion for clarification, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has asked Judge Robert Hinkle to clarify the scope of his August ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban. 

Bondi, who has acknowledged Hinkle's stay expires January 5, had her office issue the following press release:

The widespread confusion that now exists, as evidenced by multiple media reports, is precisely what the Attorney General’s Office sought to avoid while seeking a stay pending final resolution in favor of either side of the issue. As stated in the response filed today, if the federal court intended the injunction to have effects beyond those that appear on its face, the court may wish to provide appropriate clarification.

Here's some short and sweet legal analysis from Florida lawyer Nancy Brodzki:

Here's the order via Equality Case Files:

Stay tuned...


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