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Court Clerks Uncertain about Gay Marriages

Gay couples are expected to stream into courthouses across the state on Jan. 6 when a stay blocking a federal court ruling expires.

But court clerks aren’t sure whether they can accommodate them.  They were warned earlier this year by their attorneys that licenses may only be granted in Washington County.

Leon County Court Clerk Bob Inzer said clerks are waiting for the latest legal advice.

“At this point in time we are waiting for a legal opinion from the general counsel of our association providing guidance. Until such time that we get that guidance, we don’t know,” he said.

Tallahassee federal judge Robert Hinkle ruled this summer that Florida’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, but he put his ruling on hold while Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed.

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta refused Bondi’s request last week to extend the stay.

Attorneys for the Florida Association of Counties warned clerks outside of Washington County who issue marriage licenses may face misdemeanor charges. Washington was the only county named in the original law suit.

But a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is confident  that Hinkle’s ruling applies statewide.

“When a law is held to be unconstitutional, all government officials have an obligation to stop enforcing that law, whether or not they are parties to the suit.”

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