A Christian conservative group is attempting to halt the lift on Florida's gay marriage ban, arguing that "every domestic partnership, every single civil union, every couple that cohabitates...dilute and devalue marriage."
The Huffington Post reports that the lawsuits filed by the Florida Family Action, Inc. are urging Orlando's mayor and a judge to prevent officials from either officiating or issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting next week when Florida's ban on same-sex marriage will end.
The officials named in the lawsuits are Osceola County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Circuit Judge Robert LeBlanc.
Florida Family Action, which describes itself as providing "a platform for informing, inspiring and rallying those who care deeply about the family to greater involvement in the moral, cultural and political issues that threaten our state," argues in their lawsuits that the expiring stay on same-sex marriage only applies to Washington County, which is where, in August, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle made his original ruling that the ban is unconstitutional.
John Stemberger, president of the organization, issued the following statement regarding the lawsuits: "All three of these officials have shown great contempt and disrespect for the rule of law and are behaving irresponsibly and unprofessionally...Respect for law must be restored or else legitimacy in government as an institution will diminish at an even greater rate. Ultimately, if these local officials continue in this same reckless pattern of behavior, they could easily face the same fate as so many other politicians did who are now retired as a result of the last election."
Thus far, Ramirez is the only Florida clerk of courts outside of Washington County who has publicly said he will issue licenses to same-sex couples. Dyer and LeBlanc have said they plan to officiate mass same-sex weddings on Jan. 6, the day Florida's ban on gay marriage is scheduled to be lifted.
According to The Guardian, the overwhelming majority of Florida clerks will refuse to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples until they have further clarification that it is legal to do so.
In the meantime, Hinkle has reportedly ordered the state to decide if county clerks will be legally allowed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, the state has since insisted that Hinkle must decide if his overturning of the same-sex marriage ban applies to the entire state or just to Washington County.