Tuesday, April 24, 2018
News Roundup

Papers filed to move gay marriage case to Florida Supreme Court

Lawyers for two Monroe County men who won the right to marry asked an appeals court Monday to move the case directly to Florida's Supreme Court.

"The constitutionality of Florida's laws barring same-sex couples from marriage is an issue of great public importance that has a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state," lawyers Bernadette Restivo and Elena Vigil-Fariñas, who represent Key West bartenders Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, wrote to the Miami-based Third District Court of Appeal. "There is a need to bring finality to this issue on a statewide basis so that clerks of court throughout the state have uniform guidance as to whether they must issue marriage licenses on an equal basis to otherwise qualified same-sex couples."

According to the attorneys, "a decision from the Supreme Court would also provide uniform direction and guidance to government, public and private entities throughout the state, including the judiciary, which make decisions on a daily basis with regard to the provision of benefits or rights to persons based in whole or in part on their marital status."

The lawyers describe the case as "an issue of great public importance that directly and profoundly affects same-sex couples throughout the state, as well as their children and other family members, by excluding them from a right the Supreme Court has declared to be 'of fundamental importance for all individuals.'"

The appeals court gave Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office has appealed the men's legal victory, 10 days to respond.

On July 17, Monroe Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared Florida's 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, ruling against Bondi, whose office defended the ban. Huntsman and Jones have not been allowed to marry: Florida law mandates that an automatic stay pending appeal is triggered when a public official loses a court case.

The Monroe County case mirrors one in Miami-Dade, in which Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel on Friday ordered that six same-sex couples also be allowed to marry, but stayed her ruling pending appeal.

Preventing same-sex couples from marrying, Zabel said, "serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society."

The gay-marriage battle is being waged across the nation. Currently, gay marriage is legal in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

A federal judge last week ruled Colorado's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. And on Monday, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling that Virginia's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

According to the group Freedom to Marry, LGBT advocates have won more than 25 times in federal, state and appellate courts since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edith Windsor, a lesbian widow, and threw out a key portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of state marriage bans.

It is likely that the Monroe and Miami-Dade cases will be appealed together and that whatever decision is reached by the appeals court will affect both.

Restivo said whichever side might lose at the Florida Supreme Court could then "petition the United States Supreme Court to take the case."

Comments
Top places to hang with your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Top places to hang with your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Dogs are more welcome in public than ever these days. Bars and restaurants are making themselves more pet-friendly, and you can find weekly "yappy hours" happening at spots all over Tampa Bay. Add to that a healthy number of dog-approved events and ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — A Lakewood High School student was killed and two others boys when their car struck a tree just outside the campus on Tuesday afternoon, according to police.All three boys involved in the crash were 18 and seniors, officials said.Gra...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Column: Republicans gutted the mortgage interest deduction. Democrats should finish it off.

Column: Republicans gutted the mortgage interest deduction. Democrats should finish it off.

One of the most remarkable things about the tax bill Republicans passed last year was how it took a rotary saw to the mortgage interest deduction. The benefit for homeowners was once considered a politically untouchable upper-middle-class entitlement...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay

HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Calvary Christian (23-0)This week: Today at Jesuit, Friday vs. St. PetersburgThe buzz: The Warriors are ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today. The win streak is now 53 games. Venice was a big threat last week, but ace Nolan Hudi held the Indians...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
USF extends Mark Harlan’s contract

USF extends Mark Harlan’s contract

As expected, USF athletic director Mark Harlan has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the school through the 2020-21 school year.Harlan recently entered the final year of the original five-year deal he signed in March 2014 that paid hi...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing Cobb, weather permitting

For starters: Rays at Orioles, facing Cobb, weather permitting

The Rays are set to get their first look at an old friend tonight, as Alex Cobb will be on the mound for the Orioles, weather permitting.Heavy rain is forecast for the Baltimore area, though Orioles officials seem confident there will be a window for...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Sarasota student under fire over his racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student under fire over his racist ‘promposal’

The Sarasota County School District has begun to address the community after a Riverview High School student’s racist prom proposal over the weekend went viral, including reaching out to the Sarasota chapter of the NAACP.High school senior Noah Crowl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
USF men win fourth consecutive AAC golf title

USF men win fourth consecutive AAC golf title

Only 445 yards separated USF's resident runner-up from the 2018 breakthrough he coveted.Two or three more swings, and Bulls senior Claudio Correa's first individual title of the season would be in the bag, right where his team's conference title alre...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

TAMPA — The world’s biggest hotel company already has 29 properties in the Tampa Bay area, but its CEO says a plan to put more than 1,400 rooms in three Marriott-branded hotels within a few blocks of each other says something about how Tampa is evolv...
Updated: 1 hour ago