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Florida Threat: Arresting Officials Who Let Gays Get Married

Florida clerks can start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in January -- but if they do, they could risk arrest and jail time.
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Florida clerks can start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in January -- but if they do, they could risk arrest and jail time. An anti-gay group in Hawaii is still trying -- and failing -- to stop marriages. And things are still looking bad for the National Organization for Marriage.

Marriage is supposed to start in Florida on January 6th, but that doesn't mean it will. Back in August, a federal judge ruled against the state's marriage ban, and after months of waiting, his ruling is scheduled to finally go into effect on January 6. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the US Supreme Court for another delay, but on Friday they said no, the marriages can go ahead.

The situation is complicated because as of January 6th, the ban will be officially unconstitutional, but also still on the books. Florida's marriage ban includes some really steep penalties, and clerks who obey the judge's ruling and issue a license could be arrested, and thrown in jail for a year. It would be crazy if that actually happened, but all it would take is a clerk willing to test the law, and a prosecutor willing test it back at them. We don't know if that'll going to happen, and we might not find out until the stay expires in January.

In the mean time, a judge in Florida has granted the state's first divorce request from a lesbian couple. The U.S. Supreme Court is planning to consider whether to take up a marriage case from Louisiana at their next conference on January 9th. And anti-gay politicians in Hawaii have asked the state Supreme Court to overturn the state's marriage equality law. This is a desperate lawsuit, and they have virtually no chance of stopping marriage at this point, but hey, it's their life.

And finally, with all this marriage stuff going on, you might think that the National Organization for Marriage might want to get involved somehow. But no, they're nowhere to be found in any of those states. Instead, the one thing that they DID do last week, aside from sending out fundraising emails, is file an appeal in a tax case that they already lost once. And that case has nothing to do with marriage, it's just an argument with the IRS. At this point, all NOM does is fundraise to pay for lawsuits about fundraising. And they can't even win those lawsuits.

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