State of Florida to clarify same-sex marriage ruling

Federal judge ordered state official to clarify whether ruling applies to all clerks of court


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gay and lesbian couples across the state of Florida could know by the end of the day Monday whether they'll be able to get a marriage license Jan. 6.

Federal Judge Robert Hinkle, whose ruling to overturn Florida's same-sex marriage ban takes effect at the end of the day Jan. 5, ordered a state official to clarify by Monday whether the ruling applies to all clerks of the court.

The question now turns to whether clerks across the state must issue marriage licenses come 2015.

Regardless of the clarification, most counties are following the advice of legal council by not issuing same-sex marriage licenses until a binding order is issued.

An Associated Press poll found that of 53 Florida county clerks surveyed, 46 would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Brevard County Clerk of Court Scott Ellis is one of them.

"If the ruling does come down from the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, then we'll be ready for it," said Ellis. "But until then we're not going to issue licenses on Jan. 6."

Some speculate clerks won't issue licenses because they have been legally advised not to do so because of criminal prosecution, but Ellis has a different reason.

"Because there's the possibility even if it becomes legal that licenses issued prior to it becoming legal would be invalidated," said Ellis. "Those licenses would all have to be reissued."

However, Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez said he will issue same-sex marriage licenses next month.

In fact, Ramirez said that at midnight Jan. 6 the courthouse will be opened for same-sex couples wanting to apply for a license.

Several clerk's told Local 6 Monday that they are now in the process of modifying the gay marriage paperwork so it says "spouse 1 and spouse 2" instead of "bride and groom."

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