Stopping Same Sex Marriages

A conservative group recently sued a county clerk of courts, Orlando's mayor and a judge in an effort to stop them from helping same-sex couples get married in Florida.

The lawsuits filed by the Florida Family Action, Inc. asked a judge to prevent the officials from either officiating or issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting next week when Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is set to expire.

The officials named in the lawsuits are Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer 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.

Ramirez said Tuesday that he hadn't been served with the lawsuit, and that 30 couples already have registered online to get their licenses. 

A Dyer spokeswoman said in a statement that the mayor doesn't believe a local judge has the authority to stop a notary public, such as the mayor, from conducting a ministerial act such as a wedding ceremony.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that Florida's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. He stayed his ruling, but the stay is scheduled to expire Jan. 5. 

The association that represents county clerks said the ruling applies only in Washington County, and an overwhelming majority of Florida clerks in the AP survey said they won't issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until they have further clarification that it is legal to do so.

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