Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida should stop defending ban on gay marriage

A federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled on the right side of history by refusing to extend a ban on gay marriage in Florida. The ruling upholds the dignity of every human being regardless of sexual orientation, and it protects the American right to privacy by limiting the government's reach into everyday life. Attorney General Pam Bondi should embrace these same solid values and quit wasting Florida's money and tarnishing its reputation by continuing to stand in the way.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta was on the narrow issue of whether to extend a stay of a federal district court judge's decision that Florida's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. In a plainly worded ruling in August, District Judge Robert L. Hinkle wrote that the state Constitution's ban that Florida voters approved in 2008 is "an obvious pretext for discrimination." Yet Hinkle stayed his decision until Jan. 5 to give Bondi time to appeal, and the appellate court this week declined to extend the stay beyond that date.

The ruling clears the way for Floridians to start enjoying the rights they legally earned last summer and that now apply to most of the nation. So far this year, same-sex marriage has become legal in 18 additional states, bringing the total to 35 plus the District of Columbia. And the ruling follows same-sex marriage victories in Florida state courts. There is a wave of rulings against these bigoted laws across the country, and it is past time that the fourth-largest state stood up and recognized equal rights.

Bondi's spokeswoman said Thursday the office is reviewing the order, but it is time to let this go. The state should have heeded the federal court's call for justice — not challenged it, which only drags out the day until committed couples can get on with their lives. A further appeal of Hinkle's stay would have the warped effect of making the winners in this legal battle the losers. That's gone on long enough.

There is no reason to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court, as Bondi has proposed. It remains unclear whether the Supreme Court will act, although it has sent conflicting signals. Louisiana this week became the fifth party to ask the high court to resolve "a spiraling national controversy that has already nullified the marriage laws of over 20 states."

There is no legal or principled reason for Bondi to put Florida couples on hold until the courts settle the issue. It's fantasy to think the courts or even the American public is evenly split on the question. Of the 60 court rulings since last year, when the Supreme Court invalidated part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex activists have won all but four, according to the count by a leading advocacy group. Opinion polls show that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, while the number of those opposed continues to decline.

Bondi should drop the state's appeal and allow Floridians to get on with their lives. The new year should bring a new opportunity for gay couples to enjoy the full freedoms to which all Americans are entitled.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18