Marriage licenses in Florida are issued by the County Clerk of Court.
If either partners is a Florida resident, there is a 3 day delay in the effective date of the marriage license, unless the Florida resident completes a premarital course by a provider who is registered with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
In 2008, an amendment was made to Florida’s Constitution, defining marriage between one man and one woman and banned similar unions such as civil unions or marriage between same-sex couples.
On June 20, 2013, we launched Get Engaged, our campaign to secure the freedom to marry in Florida. The announcement came within days of the United States Supreme Court striking down key sections of the national Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
We knew that if we told our stories of hope, loss, and love - we would be able to change the hearts and minds of Floridians. Now, over 57% of Floridians support marriage equality.
On January 21, 2014, Equality Florida along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in Miami seeking the freedom in Florida. To read the full press release, click here.
Our day in court finally arrived on July 2nd in Miami with Judge Zabel. Outside the courtroom, right-wing extremist and anti-gay religious groups came to intimidate our plaintiffs and the judge with messages of hate. But as our plaintiffs exited the building and stood on the steps of the Miami-Dade Courthouse, supporters started chanting “Love is Louder, LOVE IS LOUDER!”
On July 25, 2014, Judge Zabel in Miami ruled Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples unconstitutional making Zabel the second judge in Florida to do so. The first favorable ruling came from Key West Judge Garcia on July 17th.
Since then, a judge in Broward and Palm Beach counties have also ruled Florida’s ban unconstitutional.
All cases have been appealed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and are still working their way through the court system. For more detailed updates, visit eqfl.org/marriagenews.
On August 21, 2014, Federal Judge Hinkle ruled Florida’s ban on marriage unconstitutional in the federal case Brenner v. Scott. Judge Hinkle put a stay in place to expire on January 5th, 2014. On September 4th, the three defendants in the case filed an appeal to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
As we wait for the 11th Circuit to hear the marriage case, the State of Florida requested the 11th Circuit extend the stay on Judge Hinkle’s marriage ruling - further delaying the freedom to marry right here in Florida. But on December 3rd, the 11th Circuit denied Attorney General Bondi’s request, allowing marriages to start in early January 2015.
On December 16, 2014, from the Tampa Tribune: Greenberg Traurig, the law firm for the association representing Florida's 67 court clerks, warned that a federal judge's ruling overturning the state ban on gay marriage only applies to one Panhandle county, Washington County, the only place named in the lawsuit. According to the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers, clerks in all other counties are not bound by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle's ruling in August that the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
On December 19, 2014, The United States Supreme Court has denied a request to delay the freedom to marry in Florida! That means that it's official: The stay in Florida's federal marriage ruling will be lifted on January 5, and the freedom to marry will take effect in Florida on January 6! The Supreme Court declared that there's no good reason to delay the freedom to marry.
On December 24, 2014, Equality Florida and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) issued a six-page memorandum to the Clerk of Courts of Florida's 67 counties re issuing marriage licenses on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. The memo explains why - notwithstanding contrary advice provided to the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers in legal memoranda from a private law firm dated July 1, 2014 and December 15, 2014 - Florida Court Clerks are compelled and certainly permitted to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning January 6, 2015.
On January 1, 2015, Judge Hinkle confirmed his marriage ruling, clarifying that ALL Florida counties must issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the stay expires end of day January 5th!
On January 5, 2015: The same judge who heard arguments last July on behalf of Equality Florida Institute and our six brave plaintiff couples lifted the stay on her marriage ruling, allowing marriages to begin in Miami-Dade County on January 5th.
On January 6, 2015: Marriages began in all other counties throughout Florida. Click here for a running tally of same-sex marriages in Central/West Coast Florida.
On January 15, 2015: The Social Security Administration has updated their website and will now accept marriage licenses of same-sex couples in Florida to update names on social security cards. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1KR3Hj3.
On January 16, 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a marriage equality case! The Court will likely make a nationwide decision by late June 2015! Read more here: http://bit.ly/1CwEAMu.
On February 4, 2015: The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has stayed the proceedings on the marriage equality cases in both Florida and Alabama as we wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to make a nationwide resolution. In the meantime, same-sex couples can continue to marry in Florida! Read our full statement here: http://bit.ly/1KsYE5o
On April 28, 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the freedom to marry. Court Case: Obergefell v. Hodges
On June 26, 2015: Love wins! In a 5-4 opinion by Justice Kennedy, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in all 50 states. Marriage Equality is the law of the land!