Court Orders Florida to Start Letting Gay Couples Marry in One Month

Marriage could be coming to Florida sooner than we expected. Plus, after last week's big win, the Mississippi lawsuit is now on the fast track to an appeal. And Kansas just lost their latest attempt to hold back the start of marriage.

A little over three months ago, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the state's marriage ban is unconstitutional, but stayed his decision until January 5 so the state had time to appeal. Well, January 5 is coming up, and the state's asked for an extension. This week the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said no, the stay will expire, and marriage is going to start on the fifth.

This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. First, it indicates that the 11th Circuit probably expects that marriage is going to happen one way or another, so they might as well let it start a little early. Second, it shows that the 11th Circuit doesn't see any harm to letting gay and lesbian couples get married. The state can still ask the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension, but their chances of getting one are not great.

Now, this ruling is limited to the stay, but the 11th Circuit will rule on the actual merits of the case early next year. So this is a promising sign that they'll rule in favor of equality. The 11th Circuit is also likely to hear cases currently pending in Alabama and Georgia. This week's Florida decision is also an early indication that we could get a favorable ruling in those states.

Also last week, a judge in Mississippi put that state's case on the fast track. Similar cases in Louisiana and Texas are currently scheduled for oral argument on January 9th, and since Mississippi is in the same circuit it's likely that it'll join them. The Fifth Circuit also imposed a stay that will prevent marriages from starting in Mississippi until the appeal is complete.

Marriage is still in a sort of gray area in Kansas. Some counties are granting licenses and others aren't, following a District Court ruling that overturned the state's ban. The state has twice appealed that decision to the 10th Circuit, and last week the court rejected the state's request for a second time. From here, the state can petition the Supreme Court, but their chances of being heard there are pretty slim. So marriage is likely to come to Kansas very soon.

Those are the headlines this week. Subscribe here on YouTube for more on all these stories. For the American Foundation for Equal Rights, I'm Matt Baume. Thanks for watching and we'll see you next week.