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Same-sex marriages to begin in Florida as Supreme Court denies stay

Same-sex marriage to begin in Florida in January after Supreme Court refuses stay

Same-sex couples can begin marrying in Florida next month after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday denied a request for a stay from the state's attorney general.

Marriages can begin Jan. 5, the day a stay ordered by a lower court judge who overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban expires, according to the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Conservative Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented from the majority's decision to deny the stay.

Florida Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi made the request for a stay earlier this week, a last-ditch effort to block same-sex marriage in the Sunshine State.

The state's voter-approved ban against same-sex marriage was enacted in 2008, but faced challenges in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties earlier this year. Judges in both counties found the state ban violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to hear a same-sex marriage case after striking down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013; the ruling opened the door for legal challenges to state bans on same-sex marriages nationwide. Last month, the Supreme Court also refused South Carolina's request for a stay to prevent same-sex marriages there.

It is now legal for same-sex couples to marry in more than 30 states and the District of Columbia.

"We are thrilled the U.S. Supreme Court has denied the State's request to delay marriages in Florida,” Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, said in a statement. “Every day of delay is another day of harm experienced by thousands of loving and committed same-sex couples in Florida. It's time to break out the wedding bells! We look forward to January 6th being a special day -- Florida is ready for the freedom to marry."

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