Tuesday, May 3, 2016

As Goes Florida…

Donald Trump may have a big house down here, but he’s not winning.  A recent poll has him getting his clock cleaned.

Clinton would wallop Trump by 49-36 percent if the election were held today and she’d best Cruz 48-39 percent, according to the poll of 604 likely Florida voters.

“In this critical swing state, it is clear to us that Republicans continue to suffer substantial brand damage amongst all segments of the ascending electorate (younger voters, Hispanics & No Major Party voters) and this presidential campaign has clearly exacerbated these attitudes,” Ryan Tyson, a Republican who serves as the group’s vice president of political operations, wrote in a memo to his members.

Because Florida is the most populous swing state in the nation, with 29 Electoral College votes, a Florida victory by Clinton would almost guarantee she wins the White House.

To make matters worse, the polling comes not from some left-wing push-poll, but from a business lobby.

Booman paints a bleak picture for the presumptive GOP nominee.

Donald Trump currently doesn’t stand a chance in Florida and it’s just as likely to get worse for him than it is to get better.

A couple of things are really working against Trump. The first is that Hillary Clinton already has net negative numbers in the Sunshine State, and yet she’s still absolutely crushing him. It’s pretty unlikely that Trump can drive her negatives a whole lot higher, so he’s got to do something first and foremost with his gonorrhea-like popularity with key Florida voting blocs.

The second thing is that she’s disciplined and he’s not. When you combine this with the comparative immutability of her approve/disapprove numbers, it’s clear that Trump is both more likely to make mistakes and more likely to pay a substantial price for them.

The numbers in Florida in recent elections pretty closely match those in the general election, so if Hillary Clinton is beating Donald Trump by 13 points, that has the historic value of predicting that he’s going to lose nationally.  Florida, for all its, uh, quirks — at least in terms of elections — has been a reliable predictor of how the nation will go.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Trump has turned off one of the most reliably Republican groups here: Cuban-Americans.

Donald Trump is the catalyst who could force a decisive break between Miami-Dade County’s influential Cuban-American voters and the Republican Party, a new poll has found.

Local Cuban Americans dislike Trump so much — and are increasingly so accepting of renewed U.S.-Cuba ties pushed by Democratic President Barack Obama — that Trump’s likely presidential nomination might accentuate the voters’ political shift away from the GOP, according to the survey shared with the Miami Herald and conducted by Dario Moreno, a Coral Gables pollster and a Florida International University associate politics professor.

The trend among younger Cuban-Americans in recent elections has been toward the Democrats, but this election may be the breaking point for the older generations.  Maybe that’s because Trump reminds them of the mobsters that used to back the dictators that preceded Fidel.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dangerous Waters

Not only are the sea levels rising around Miami, the water itself is dangerous.  Via Eye on Miami and the Miami Herald:

…water sampling in December and January found tritium levels up to 215 times higher than normal in ocean water. The report doesn’t address risks to the public or marine life but tritium is typically monitored as a “tracer” of nuclear power plant leaks or spills. County staff concluded the findings are “the most compelling evidence” that canal water has spread into the bay.

That’s from the Turkey Point nuclear power generating plant that’s about twenty-five miles south of Miami on the coast of Biscayne Bay.  It’s supposed to be a closed system, which means the water that’s used to cool the reactor doesn’t get out into the bay, but apparently that’s not the case.

On the up side, at least we’ll be able to see when the sea levels rise… from the glowing water.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Short Takes

Car bomb hits military convoy in Turkey, killing 28.

President Obama will not attend Scalia’s funeral.

Apple fights court order to unlock San Bernardino suspect’s phone.

Nike drops boxer Manny Pacquiano as spokesperson after anti-gay remarks.

Not Me: Florida winners of huge Powerball win come forward.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Under Construction

This is South Florida-centric, but I’ll bet this applies to a lot of other places.

Palmetto 2258 10-23-15

The Palmetto Expressway in South Florida (SR 826) has been in various phases of construction since… well, since I lived here in the 1970’s.  A major reconstruction of the interchange with the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) has been underway since 2009 and is scheduled to be finished early 2016.  Then they’ll tear up another portion of it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Short Takes

At least 13 killed in Somali hotel blast.

Boat belonging to missing 14-year-old boys found off Florida coast.

Fiat Chrysler faces record $105 million fine for safety issues.

President Obama delivers tough-love message to Kenya.

Senate resurrects Import-Export Bank.

The Tigers got walloped 11-1 by the Red Sox.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Short Takes

Leaders work past deadline on Greek debt crisis.

Mexican drug kingpin escapes prison via tunnel.

Texas burger chain challenges state open carry law.

Kentucky gets swamped with torrential flooding.

Alligator Alley across the Everglades closed to rescue airboaters.

The Tigers head into the All-Star break at .500.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rick Scott: Lying On His Mother’s Grave

Scott Lemiuex sums up the Florida governor’s machinations with health care and Medicaid expansion.

Scott has flip-flopped on Medicaid, first opposing it, then supporting it, then opposing it again. This is bad, if not entirely unusual, political behavior. But Scott was particularly shameless, citing his recently deceased mother as his justification for suddenly embracing the expansion in 2013.

As he has now revealed, however, Scott was lying on his mother’s grave. He pretended to embrace the Medicaid expansion to secure a federal waiver for privatizing Florida’s Medicaid system, then quietly dropped his support once the waiver was granted. (The Obama administration’s decision to give the quid without first getting the quo, given who they were dealing with, was not its finest hour.)

So Scott used his deceased mother as a shield to lie about his motives in order to funnel federal taxpayer money to Florida businesses, then reneged on his part of the deal, leaving many poor Floridians to needlessly suffer and in some cases die. All par for the course for Scott, who before entering politics oversaw a massive amount of Medicare fraud as CEO of a large for-profit hospital operator.

At this point, one could say that, rank dishonesty and opportunism aside, at least Scott is standing on principle. He is turning down federal dollars to protect state sovereignty. Not a very attractive principle, but at least a principle, right?

Nope. Before the Affordable Care Act, the federal government made money available to states to create Low-Income Pools (LIP) that would reimburse hospitals that treated patients who couldn’t afford to pay for emergency services. Florida is receiving more than $1 billion a year in federal funds from LIP. The ACA, however, makes the LIP obsolete. It addresses problems of uncompensated hospitals by expanding Medicaid, greatly reducing the number of patients who cannot pay their bills.

The federal government has told Florida that it will not make the LIP funds available, pointing to the Medicaid funding which remains available. But Scott wants to have his cake and eat it, too. Not only is he demanding that the federal funding continue, he has actually filed a frivolous lawsuit arguing that the federal government is obligated to give Florida the LIP money. The Obama administration, having been burned by Scott already, is unmoved.

This lawsuit builds on the Supreme Court’s already shaky holding that allowed states to opt out of the expansion, pushing it to an extreme that would be too absurd even for the Roberts Court. It has virtually no chance of succeeding.

But the decision to file it is instructive. On the one hand, Scott is arguing that taking an extraordinarily good offer from the federal government to insure its poor citizens would be an intolerable intrusion on the sacred sovereignty of the state of Florida. On the other hand, Scott is arguing that Florida has a right to another source of federal tax dollars for health care.

There is, in other words, no actual principle involved here — not even a bad “states’ rights” one. It’s just pure partisan politics, with Florida’s poor people being punished as a result.

Sorry, Kansas, Maine, and Wisconsin: Florida has the worst governor in the country.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Officially Finally Florida

As of midnight, Florida is all in for marriage equality.

Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello got an early start on history Monday, becoming the first gay couple to marry in Florida after a judge let Miami-Dade County issued marriage licenses hours before the midnight launch of same-sex weddings statewide.

Now comes the rest of Florida. Court clerks have deployed extra staff, reworded paperwork and reserved parks and courtrooms to handle the gay couples expected to line up today for the historic — and long-awaited — chance to be married in the Sunshine State.

[…]

“This is how change happens,” said Howard Simon, director of Florida American Civil Liberties Union, whose lawyers represented the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit challenging the state’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriages.

Yes, this is a big deal, and not just for the couples who are getting married.  It’s a big deal for those of us who as yet haven’t met the one they’re going to marry because it says that now the only reason not to get married is because they haven’t yet met the one they’re going to marry.

Thirty years ago when Allen and I decided we would spend our lives together, which meant joint leasing of rental property, sharing expenses, coming up with insurance beneficiaries, and later buying a house, we had to make it up as we went along.  At the time, none of the three states we lived in together — Colorado, Michigan, and New Mexico — recognized same-sex couples as anything other than chummy roommates.  We were able to work things out with the help of good people in the real estate and legal community, but for a lot of people — especially those whose families struggle with acceptance of their gay son or daughter — the hardest part is doing the things that up to now have been improvised and challenging for same-sex couples, whereas the straight couples have the way paved for them.  (When we separated in 1999, we had to do everything in reverse.)  We didn’t ask for special rights; we asked for the same thing the folks next door got.

I’m very happy for the couples who are getting married, and I know that all they hope for is a life as ordinary as any other couple of people in Miami, Tampa, Pensacola, or anywhere else have.  That’s what it’s really all about.  Simple equality.

Wedding Bell Blues

Aw, the poor babies have the marriage equality sadz:

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee declared the state ban unconstitutional in August, but stayed his decision through Monday to give some time for legal appeals. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, sought extensions of the stay from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, but both turned her down.

[…]

In a statement issued Monday, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was “deeply disappointed” by Hinkle’s decision and by the appeals courts’ refusal to grant Bondi an extension.

“Marriage based on the complementarity of the sexes is the lifeblood of family, and family is the foundation of our society,” the bishops said. “The crisis that sadly the family is experiencing today will only be aggravated by imposing this redefinition of marriage. Society must rediscover the irreplaceable roles of both mother and father who bring unique gifts to the education and rearing of children.”

With their record of obstruction of justice and sheltering of pedophiles, the Catholic bishops are in no position to lecture anyone on morality and the lifeblood of the family.  The “crisis” isn’t because same-sex couples are being granted their equal rights; it’s because absolute strangers are imposing their personal morality and peccadilloes on everyone else.

Here is why Jeb Bush will not be the 2016 GOP nominee:

As gay couples began to wed in Florida after a court ruling, Jeb Bush, the state’s former governor and long an opponent of same-sex marriages, struck a conciliatory note on Monday, telling The New York Times that “regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law.”

[…]

“We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law,” Mr. Bush said in a statement. “I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.”

This “conciliatory” shrug from Mr. Bush isn’t going to cut it with the True Believers in the Republican base.  He’ll be seen as caving in to the Sodomites on South Beach to pander for their votes, and no self-respecting homophobe would vote for anyone who says we have to respect the rule of law.

Also, marriage is not a sacrament when it’s done in a civil ceremony; it’s a legal contract.  Sacraments are reserved to those who think their god is somehow involved in determining and upholding their marriage.  That’s fine if that’s what makes it mean something to them, but the government isn’t in the ritual business, and religious liberty is not at stake when two men go down to the courthouse and fill out a form.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Marriage Equality Comes to Miami-Dade County

From the Tampa Bay Times with reporting by Patricia Mazzei and Steve Rothaus, Miami Herald:

Gay Marriage Miami-Dade 01-05-15

Miami-Dade County became the first place in Florida to allow same-sex couples to marry on Monday, half a day before a gay-marriage ban that has been ruled unconstitutional is lifted in the rest of the state.

Weddings began around 1:30 p.m., less than three hours after Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the legal stay she had placed on her sweeping July decision declaring the ban discriminatory.

Two of the six couples who had sued — Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove, and Jeff and Todd Delmay of Hollywood — were the first to be married, by Zabel herself.

The couples exchanged rings surrounded by family, friends and a pack of television crews at downtown Miami’s historic civil courthouse following Zabel’s 11 a.m. ruling.

“In the big picture, does it really matter whether or not I lift the stay or leave it until tomorrow?” Zabel said from the bench. “I’m lifting the stay.”

The elected clerk of courts, Harvey Ruvin, at first said same-sex marriages would begin at 2 p.m. But once his office received a signed copy of Zabel’s two-page order at noon, he let couples could apply for marriage licenses immediately.

“All of our offices are now fully prepared to follow the judge’s order, and everyone will be treated equally,” said Ruvin, a Democrat in a nonpartisan post.

Same-sex couples are now be able to marry in 36 states and Washington, D.C. The ruling also means gay marriages performed outside Florida will be recognized in Miami-Dade.

Cheers erupted in the courthouse with Zabel’s decision. Some of the couples who were plaintiffs in the case cried tears of joy. Outside, surrounded by a throng of reporters and photographers, they held hands and raised their arms in victory.

“I feel good. I am relieved. I feel vindicated,” said Pareto, of Coconut Grove. She and her partner of more than 14 years, Arguello, arrived in cream-colored dresses, ready to get hitched. They were the first couple to obtain a marriage license Monday.

“Finally,” Arguello said. “Finally, our family will not be treated any differently.”

Outside of Miami-Dade, most Florida court clerks will start marrying gay couples Tuesday — some of them at 12:01 a.m. — following a federal judge’s order. Several counties in conservative North Florida have stopped marrying people in their offices, in part to avoid marrying same-sex couples, although they will still have to issue marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee declared the state ban unconstitutional in August, but stayed his decision through Monday to give some time for legal appeals. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, sought extensions of the stay from the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, but both turned her down.

The ban was approved in by 62 percent of Florida voters in 2008 as part of Amendment 2, an initiative organized by the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council.

In a statement issued Monday, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was “deeply disappointed” by Hinkle’s decision and by the appeals courts’ refusal to grant Bondi an extension.

“Marriage based on the complementarity of the sexes is the lifeblood of family, and family is the foundation of our society,” the bishops said. “The crisis that sadly the family is experiencing today will only be aggravated by imposing this redefinition of marriage. Society must rediscover the irreplaceable roles of both mother and father who bring unique gifts to the education and rearing of children.”

Last year, Zabel was the second state judge — after Judge Luis Garcia in the Florida Keys — to overturn a 2008 voter-approved amendment to Florida’s Constitution that required marriages to be between a man and a woman. In all, four South Florida judges sided with same-sex couples who either sought to marry or divorce, or to have the state recognize their out-of-state marriage. The other two judges hailed from Broward and Palm Beach counties.

In the Keys, Judge Garcia vacated his stay Monday afternoon, but made the order effective at midnight, which means same-sex couples will be able to marry there beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin’s office plans to open at that time to marry 100 couples. First in line will be Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones of Key West, who filed the case that prompted Garcia’s ruling.

Broward Clerk Howard Forman also plans to grant licenses beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, with a mass wedding scheduled for 3 a.m.

Zabel ruled in favor of six same-sex couples from Miami-Dade and Broward, and the LGBT-rights group Equality Florida Institute, who sued last Jan. 21. They were the first plaintiffs to challenge Florida’s ban in court.

On Monday, Zabel kept her decision short: “The Clerk of the Court is hereby authorized to issue marriage licenses forthwith to prospective spouses of the same gender,” she wrote.

In addition to Pareto and Arguello and the Delmays, the other plaintiff couples were Jorge Isaias Diaz and Don Price Johnston of Miami; Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price of Davie; Vanessa and Melanie Alenier of Hollywood; Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber of Plantation.

Pareto’s and Arguello’s mothers, who accompanied their daughters to Monday’s hearing, later stood on chairs to see over the crowd as their daughters signed their marriage license.

Ruvin’s office had no time Monday to print new license applications, so Pareto signed as “groom” and Arguello as “bride.”

“Take lots of pictures,” said Marlene Pareto, who was tearing up. “My daughter looks prettier today than ever.”

Miami Herald staff writers Audra D.S. Burch and Carli Teproff contributed to this report.

I once said I thought Florida would be the last state to grant equal rights to everyone.  Once again, I am very happy to be very wrong.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Welcome, Snowbirds

They’re already on their way; in fact some have been here in South Florida for a couple of weeks: the annual migration of visitors from the north who boost our economy and up the chances of seeing license plates from Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Tennessee from occasional to routine.

I’ve lived in Florida for a total of nearly twenty years, and the only people I’ve ever heard complain with any degree of rancor about the influx of snowbirds are other snowbirds.

12 Beach and Ocean

License to Wed

A federal judge in Tallahassee has ordered all 67 county clerks of courts in Florida to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting on Tuesday.  Or else.

Clerks of court across Florida should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples next week, a federal judge ordered on New Year’s Day, warning recalcitrant officials they could face legal consequences if they refuse.

The decision, by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee, ends weeks of speculation and legal maneuvering as clerks throughout the state waited to hear whether gay marriage would become legal statewide, or restricted to Washington County in the Panhandle.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a written statement Thursday afternoon saying that her office, which has defended the state’s same-sex marriage ban, would not “stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed.”

[…]

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has steadfastly opposed same-sex marriage, did not comment publicly on the judge’s order. His second inauguration, scheduled for Tuesday, is expected to take place on the same day that gay Floridians are first allowed to marry.

Heh.  The timing of the ruling and the inauguration of Mr. Scott reeks of karma.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Finally Florida

Let the wedding bells chime from Pensacola to Key West and all points in between.

Gay_flagThe U.S. Supreme Court on Friday chose not to meddle in Florida’s tug-of-war over marriage equality, declining to delay the Jan. 6 start of same-sex vows.

Attorney General Pam Bondi had asked the court to block gay marriage while Florida fights to protect a 2008 constitutional amendment that allows only heterosexual couples to wed. In a one-paragraph order, the court decided not to step into the Florida case.

Same-sex marriage advocates immediately cheered the court’s ruling as a step toward marriage equality.

“We are ecstatic what the Supreme Court has done today,” said Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples and the LGBT-rights group SAVE. “We are so happy for our plaintiffs and all our same-sex couples who can go ahead and get married and have their marriages recognized in their home states.”

Reaction was more muted from Bondi, who issued a statement:

“Tonight, the United States Supreme Court denied the state’s request for a stay in the case before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Regardless of the ruling, it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on January 5.”

Coincidentally, I had dinner last night with a local couple who got married about eighteen months ago in Vermont.  So this means, I believe, that their marriage will be recognized here as well.  Congratulations to them, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Marriage Equality: Florida Could Be Next

Well, whattayaknow.  Via Steve Rothaus:

Rainbow Flag Miami SkylineSame-sex couples in Florida could begin marrying next month, after a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a stay in the state’s gay-marriage ban case will be lifted at the end of the day Jan. 5.

In a two-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta turned down a request by Florida’s secretaries of health and management services and the clerk of the court in the Panhandle’s Washington County to extend the stay. A federal judge based in Tallahassee ruled in August that the state’s gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional, but stayed his decision until Jan. 5 to give the state time to appeal.

“This is a clear victory for us because it finds the harm is being done to the people, not the state,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, which is representing same-sex couples from throughout Florida and gay-rights group SAVE, who sued to have out-of-state same-sex marriages recognized in the Sunshine State.

“It means that relief is finally in sight for the same-sex married couples suffering under Florida’s refusal to recognize their legal unions,” SAVE executive director Tony Lima said in a statement.

On Aug. 21, U.S. Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee threw out the gay-marriage ban in Florida’s Constitution — which was approved by 62 percent of voters in 2008 — calling it “an obvious pretext for discrimination.”

“Liberty, tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts,” Hinkle wrote at the time. “Those who enter opposite-sex marriages are harmed not at all when others, including these plaintiffs, are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage.” He stayed his decision to give Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi time to appeal.

Bondi then asked the appeals court — which has yet to set a date to hear the case — to keep the stay in place past Jan. 5 until the court decides on the merits.

“We are reviewing the ruling,” Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Meale wrote Wednesday in an email to the Miami Herald.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, which supported the 2008 constitutional amendment, blasted the court decision.

“The court today is wrong,” he said. “The court was also wrong years ago in Dred Scott when it ruled that blacks were not persons. The courts will never have the final word on an institution as fundamental to the human experience as marriage. You simply cannot build a civilization without natural marriage.”

Ron Saunders, attorney for Monroe County Court Clerk Amy Heavilin, said the office is ready to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“We’ve been ready,” Saunders said. “We’ve had to change the vows from husband and wife, made sure everyone knew the procedures. . . . We’re ready to do whatever is legal.”

Monroe County is the Florida Keys and Key West.  They’ve been ready for this for a long time.

Of course the homophobes are upset, but then the concept of fundamental rights trumping the voters is an alien concept to them, and they get their tails all puffed up when an “activist judge” rules for anyone but them.

The next step is for the courts to turn down the next appeal.  Then, boys, get the corsages and the rings.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Can’t Get Here From There

This is what happens when you don’t do your homework… or check Orbitz.

A member of Congress who wants to ban travel from countries afflicted by the Ebola outbreak appeared to be unaware of a key fact — that there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone.

In a Friday morning appearance on MSNBC, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) argued that instituting a flight ban, regardless of what experts say, makes sense and said he plans to introduce a bill doing so once Congress reconvenes in November.

[…]

Since there are no direct flights between the hardest-hit nations and the United States, the Florida Republican was pressed to specifically identify which flights he wanted to impose restrictions on.

“I believe there are some flights,” Ross responded.

“There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa. That is incorrect,” rebutted New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters.

Yep.  Another Florida win in the Idiot Quotient in Congress.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Florida AG Asks Court To Rule On Marriage Equality

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi wants to get it over.  Via Steve Rothaus at the Miami Herald:

In a startling move Monday night, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said she wants the Florida Supreme Court to decide once-and-for-all whether same-sex couples can marry in the Sunshine State.

“That is unquestionably an important issue, and the Plaintiffs, the State, and all citizens deserve a definitive answer,” Bondi’s office wrote in a 6 p.m. filing to the state’s Third District Court of Appeal. “Until recently, the issue was squarely before the United States Supreme Court, and it appeared that a definitive answer was coming. … Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court decided not to answer the question.”

Last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court settled the gay marriage issue in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, along with Wisconsin and Indiana, when it announced justices would not hear appeals in federal court decisions allowing same-sex marriages in those states. Since then, same-sex couples have also been allowed to wed in North Carolina, Idaho and Alaska. Now, 59 percent of Americans live in at least 30 states were same-sex marriage is legal, according to Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT activist group.

On July 17, Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared Florida’s 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, ruling against Bondi, whose office defended the ban. He ordered that a Key West couple, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, had the right to marry, but an automatic stay in the case prevented the nuptials. On July 25, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel also declared Florida’s ban unconstitutional, finding in favor of six same-sex couples who want to marry. Her ruling also was stayed pending appeal.

After those rulings Ms. Bondi put off appealing the rulings to the Florida Supreme Court by saying she wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule first.  That’s because she is up for re-election in November and did not want these cases front and center.  But with the decision from the Supreme Court to not take the case and let the lower court rulings stand, she saw the inevitable.

“Florida’s courts will therefore need to resolve the issue without further United States Supreme Court guidance,” she wrote in Monday’s filing. “Because there are cases pending in multiple districts, and because this is an issue of great public importance that now warrants immediate Florida Supreme Court review, the State respectfully suggests pass-through certification.”

There are still some hoops to jump through, but the court could take up the case and rule by next spring.  Of course by then it could all be over.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Now What, Florida?

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been fighting the rulings on marriage equality in the state and waiting for the Supreme Court to do something.  They did.  Okay, Ms. Bondi, over to you.

The decision arrived at an awkward moment for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office has filed appeals in several suits challenging the state’s ban.

Immediately after the Supreme Court issued its orders, Bondi faced renewed pressure from gay marriage advocates to drop those appeals. She was already scheduled to appear on a televised debate with her opponent in the November election, who quickly added his voice to the chorus of critics.

“My office, this just came out less than three hours ago, will be reviewing that, see what happens next, there are a lot of other cases in the pipeline,” Bondi said during the debate aired on Bay News 9. “What I’ve always said is that the court must decide this — we need finality from the judiciary.”

Translation: Hamana hamana hamana.

You wanted finality?  You pretty much got it.

The one wrinkle that could come is that the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, which is hearing the case of a couple in Tallahassee, could rule next year.

Filed in March, the Brenner case is the furthest along of any of the legal challenges filed in federal court in Florida, and is the first of its kind to reach the 11th Circuit, which also has jurisdiction over Alabama and Georgia.

The plaintiffs are a gay couple who married in Canada in 2009 before moving to Tallahassee, where their marriage license was about as useful as snow shoes.

Gay marriage advocates expect the 11th Circuit to decide the Brenner case in early 2015. Assuming it is appealed, they are optimistic it will travel the same path laid Monday by the Supreme Court, an expedited journey that could bring gay marriage to Florida a year from now. If this happens, bans in Alabama and Georgia would likely topple as well.

Still, there is no guarantee that the 11th Circuit, known for being conservative, would strike down Florida’s ban. If it upholds the law, becoming the first federal appeals court in the country to do so, it could provide the Supreme Court an opportunity to step in to resolve conflicting rulings.

Given yesterday’s punt, it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will even take the case, and if they do, rule in favor of the defendant.  They will be drowned out by wedding bells.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Short Takes

Secret Service chief Julia Pierson resigns over security lapses.

Beijing warns Hong Kong of “chaos” from protests.

Questions arise over initial response to Ebola patient in Texas.

Guilty verdict in trial of Florida man in shooting of an unarmed man over loud music.

New Moon — Image forces change in theory of the moon’s formation.

The Tigers take on Baltimore in the opening game of the ALDS tonight.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Short Takes

President Obama at the U.N.

The Security Council unanimously passed an anti-terrorism resolution.

ISIS splinter group in Algeria execute French hostage.

Protests and arrests in Ferguson after a memorial was destroyed by fire.

Protests at Florida State after GOP hack John Thrasher named university president.

The Tigers beat the White Sox 6-1 and bring the magic number to 1.