A federal ruling makes Florida the 36th state to allow same-sex marriages. On New Year’s Day, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle clarified a previous order, by stating that county clerks are bound by the U.S. Constitution not to enforce the sunshine state’s gay marriage ban.
The clarification, opens the path for clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses on Tuesday. Some county offices are considering opening at 12:01 AM Tuesday to begin issuing marriage licenses. Attorney General Pam Bondi, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, has said she does not plan to block the counties from issuing the licenses at that time.
Florida becomes the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriages. With nearly twenty million residents, Florida is one of the most populous states to allow same-sex marriages. Over two dozen states have legalized same-sex marriage through court rulings. Eight states approved gay marriage through the legislature. Three states (Maine, Maryland, and Washington) passed laws permitting same-sex marriages through voter initiatives.
The number of states that prohibit gay marriages continues to shrink rapidly. As the number continues to dwindle, one state may find itself embarrassingly in the position of being the last state to permit the freedom to marry.
A decade ago, the thought that Florida would allow same-sex couples the right to marry seemed almost unthinkable. The thought that Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah would permit would have been even more inconceivable. Yet, today what once seemed almost impossible is a 21st century reality. It should be only a matter of time before the remaining 14 states also yield to progress and enter the 21st century.
Progressives did not win many battles in 2014, but one area where everything has been going their way as of late is in the court rulings on gay marriage. The momentum is clearly in favor of the freedom to marry. Florida is the latest state to make same-sex marriages legal. But it almost certainly will not be the last state to do so.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.