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Broward Commissioners Support Same-Sex Marriage With Resolution

In the midst of four judges ruling that the ban on same-sex in Florida is unconstitutional and Attorney General Pam Bondi's blowback of those rulings, Broward County Commissioners have stepped up to show their support for same-sex marriage by passing a resolution on Tuesday.

Along with the resolution, which was passed unanimously, commissioners requested that the county attorney investigate ways to withhold county tax dollars that would be used in litigation to fight gay marriage.

The resolution and request send a clear signal that Broward County's leadership is in disagreement with Bondi's filing a motion to freeze the rulings and saying that the issue should be handled by the U.S. Supreme Court rather than judges in Florida.

See also: Broward County Judge Rules for Same Sex Marriage in Florida

Just last week, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Dale Cohen became the third Florida judge in thee weeks to rule that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Florida's ban on same-sex marriage was added to the state constitution in 2008.

Weeks before Cohen's ruling, Miami judge Sarah Zabel of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court ruled in favor of six same-sex couples who filed a motion asserting that Florida's same-sex marriage ban cannot stand in light of last year's U.S. Supreme Court of Miami-Dade ruling that the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia and Palm Beach County Judge Diana Lewis ruled for same-sex marriage in separate cases as well in the past month.

But last Friday, Bondi filed two separate motions in a state appeals court requesting a freeze on those appeals. Bondi's contention is that it would be a burden on the state's taxpayers to keep bringing these issues to court.

"The United States Supreme Court, they're going to be the body who make this decision, and then we will have uniformity throughout the country," Bondi said about her decision.

Yet, tax money is one of the top reasons the Broward County commissioners say they support same-sex marriage.

"We want to show that opposition not just by submitting a resolution but by withholding our donor county dollars that are quite frankly right now going to Tallahassee to fund this appeal process with which we are adamantly opposed," commissioner Stacy Ritter said at Tuesday's meeting.

The main issue with Bondi's motion is that SCOTUS could take years to get to the issue. Same-sex advocates see this as not only a stall tactic but also as a financial burden on the state -- the very thing Bondi claims she wants to avoid.

"The problem with that is there is no guarantee that the United States Supreme Court is ever going to undertake this matter," Broward County Commissioner David Kiar said Tuesday.

Gay-rights advocates have been fighting back Bondi's attempts to keep same-sex marriage legalization at bay.

Last month, six same-sex couples walked into Bondi's Tallahassee office and delivered 7,000 petitions signed by Floridians asking her to "stop wasting taxpayer resources defending the state's discriminatory exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage."

And just this week, Equality Florida made a public plea for Bondi to stop getting in the way of Florida judges ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

It would seem, with Tuesday's resolution, that Broward County's commissioners stand against Bondi as well.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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