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Sunday, November 19, 2017

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he Supreme Court has denied a request for an extension of the stay of the 11th Circuit ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban which expired on February 9, 2015.

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Alabama Same Sex Marriage 

The SCOTUS vote was 7-2 with Scalia and Thomas dissenting.  Gay couples are already lining up at courthouses around Alabama and weddings will begin imminently.   The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied the state Attorney General's request for a stay on a judge's ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Alabama, clearing the way for same-sex marriage to begin. 

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The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, positioning it to resolve one of the great civil rights questions in a generation before its current term ends in June, 2015.

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The decision came just months after the justices ducked the issue, refusing in October to hear appeals from rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states. That decision, which was considered a major surprise, delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19. Largely as a consequence of the Supreme Court's decision not to act, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70 percent of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry.

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Florida's ban on same-sex marriage ended statewide at the stroke of midnight Monday, January 5, 2015 and court clerks in some counties wasted no time, issuing marriage licenses and performing weddings for same-sex couples in the early morning hours.

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Miami-Dade County, Florida

But they were beaten to the punch by a Miami judge who found no need to wait until the statewide ban expired. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel presided over Florida's first legally recognized same-sex marriages Monday afternoon. Still, most counties held off on official ceremonies until early Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle's ruling that Florida's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional took effect in all 67 counties.

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U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a ruling Thursday in Tallahassee federal court responding to requests to clarify his previous order that Florida's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. He stayed that order, but the stay is scheduled to expire on January 5, 2015.  The association representing county clerks said the ruling applies only to Washington County, where a lawsuit filed by two men became a key basis for Hinkle's order. Gay rights groups said Hinkle's order applies statewide. Hinkle warned Thursday that clerks who don't start issuing the licenses when the stay expires could face future lawsuits or other legal consequences.

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On December 19, 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's petition asking Justice Clarence Thomas to place a stay on rulings that struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. But it appears same-sex couples who want a marriage license on January 6, 2015 may be turned away by fearful clerks because Florida's marriage ban was written to include particularly punitive measures for officials who allow same-sex couples to marry. Even though a federal judge has overturned the marriage ban, an appeal is still underway, which means that a prosecutor might try to make the case that the criminal sanctions remain in place.