Heavy hitters to 11th Circuit: End Florida’s gay marriage ban

Hundreds of first responders, law enforcement officials, faith leaders, cities, states and businesses have filed or will file amicus briefs this week to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit urging the court to end Florida’s same-sex marriage ban, per a Georgia Equality press release. Georgia and Alabama are part of the 11th Circuit and such a ruling would be binding in those states.

A District Court judge ruled in August that Florida’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, but stayed the ruling until Jan. 5. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit, who on Dec. 3 denied the state’s request to extend the stay.

Among the major national companies signing briefs supporting the ending of the ban:

  • Delta Air Lines
  • CBS Corporation
  • eBay
  • General Electric
  • Marriott International
  • Pfizer
  • Symantec
  • Viacom
  • Deutsche Bank AG
  • Electronic Arts
  • Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group
  • Alcoa
  • Bloomberg
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Staples
  • Sun Life Financial
  • Target
  • United Therapeutics
  • SHS Management

The brief also includes dozens of small businesses across Florida, Georgia and Alabama, cities and counties in Florida, more than 200 religious leaders and clergy and more than 200 first responders and law enforcement from Florida.

“The overwhelming and diverse support for the freedom to marry seen in these briefs filed in the 11th Circuit shows that Georgia, Florida and Alabama are ready for the freedom to marry,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, in the press release. “We are incredibly excited for those who will be able to marry in Florida in January, but are ready to see marriage for all, regardless of where you live and who you love.”

U.S. District Court Judge William Duffey, who is presiding over the lawsuit seeking to overturn Georgia’s same-sex marriage ban, has been sitting on court documents since the lawsuit was filed in April by Lambda Legal. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has asked for a motion to dismiss while Lambda Legal files additional documents citing other same-sex marriage victories as to why the case should move forward.

Lambda Legal has said it had concerns about filing a lawsuit in Georgia because of the conservative 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which would eventually have to rule on the state’s case after it is decided one way or the other in U.S. District Court. But that conservative reputation of the 11th Circuit may not hold up after ruling in the Florida case.

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders