Something big's going to happen in Florida next week, we just don't know what yet. The Supreme Court is going to examine multiple marriage cases in early January. And new polling shows support for marriage higher than ever.
A federal judge says that Florida's marriage ban is unconstitutional. Most of the state's clerks say they're going to enforce it anyway. The Supreme Court says that marriages can go ahead and start. A law firm for the clerks says that if they issue the licenses they could be arrested. But civil rights groups say that if they don't issue licenses, they could be held in contempt of court. It's all very confusing!
Marriage is supposed to start on January 6th in Florida. There are 67 clerks in the state, and as of last week, 46 said they'll refuse to issue licenses, six say they don't know what they'll do, and thirteen haven't given an answer. One county will have to issue licenses -- that's Washington County, which is the only one named in the lawsuit. Only one other county, Osceola County, plans to issue licenses as of midnight on the 6th.
Meanwhile, the federal judge who ruled that the marriage ban is unconstitutional has ordered state officials to explain exactly what they plan to do next week. His ruling back in August was very clear that his order to lift the ban applies to pretty much everyone. And other federal courts have indicated that they don't expect to reverse that ruling. So it's a little frustrating that the clerks are continuing to stall on issuing those licenses with just a few days left before marriage is supposed to start. You have one week to figure this out, Florida. Get it together.
Meanwhile, on Friday of next week, the Supreme Court will meet to decide whether to take marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit. That's a big deal because those are the only Circuit Court cases that upheld marriage bans. Because that ruling conflicts with rulings in other circuits, the justices are more likely to want to take those cases. We won't know their decision right away, but we could find out the week after. If they take one or more cases, we can expect oral argument in the spring, and then a ruling by this summer.
In other news, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will appeal a federal ruling that his state's marriage ban is unconstitutional. He will almost certainly lose and waste tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Idaho Governor Butch Otter dragged out a similar lawsuit, and last week a judge ruled that Idaho now has to reimburse attorneys for nearly a half millions dollars in legal costs. Those costs could all have been avoided by just letting couples get married, which is what wound up happening anyway.
Congratulations to the three plaintiff couples in Utah whose lawsuit brought marriage equality to the state. Last week The Salt Lake Tribune named them Utahns of the Year. And finally, a new poll in Pennsylvania shows support for marriage jumped to 62 percent after couples were allowed to start marrying.