Florida Supreme Court Declines to Hear Gay Marriage Case (For Now)

On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court (FSC) declined to hear the so-called Shaw case, regarding a Hillsborough County lesbian couple who are seeking a divorce. The FSC explained that the Second District Court of Appeal must first rule on the case before directing it to the FSC.

The Florida Constitution authorizes pass-through only when a case is "certified to require immediate resolution by the supreme court."

The South Florida couples in another prominent gay marriage case -- called the Pareto-Huntsman case, it consists of several cases that were merged because they address the same legal question --- are pushing forward. Among the couples in the merged suit are Todd and Jeff Delmay, who believe the FSC will deal with their case differently than the Shaw case.

"The Second District Court of Appeal pass-through is a divorce case that was being expedited for the ban review, to allow for the divorce. Our case is a straightforward right-to-marry case though, that they may see differently because it is directed at the heart of a Constitutional issue, and our challenge to the ban because it directly harms us. I'm hopeful that if the third District Court of Appeal chooses to certify our case, that Florida Supreme Court will urgently accept, but the fact is we must first wait for the Third District Court of Appeal to make its decision about pass-through, because we can't start worrying about whether the FSC will accept it or not."

Mark Ebenhoch, one of the media directors for the South Florida couples, believes that to grant a divorce, a court must first recognize a marriage.

"In this Constitutional context, either one begets the recognition of the other... both are tied to the hip. The FSC doesn't want to touch this case, and are using the same strategy as Bondi pointed out in her motion to freeze the cases. Therein you have the problem: when the Right has control of Florida's executive, judicial and legislative branches... the people be damned. Marriage equality is NOT an important matter in the eyes of the GOP, but it's extremely important in the eyes of the elderly LGBT couples fighting the calendar of life. To me, this is the most disgusting display of politics... and human assery."

Bernadette Restivo, one of the attorneys in the merged Pareto-Huntsman case, said of the FSC's decision, "Yes, I am very disappointed that the Florida Supreme Court did not view marriage equality as a case of utmost importance. I know hundreds and thousands of others in this state who see this as the most compelling issue of this generation."

She added: "Our work continues. We will get to Tallahassee one day or another. Keep the momentum going. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint."

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Jonathan Kendall
Contact: Jonathan Kendall