In the past few weeks Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has submitted a flurry of briefs in order to stop same-sex marriages from starting in the state. This was of course expected from her.
“It is disappointing but not surprising that Pam Bondi continues to use every legal maneuver she can find to delay the inevitable while squandering state resources in what will surely be a losing battle,” said Stratton Pollitzer of Equality Florida. “Five Florida judges have ruled the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, and nearly two-thirds of Americans live in states that recognize same-sex marriage.”
However the Log Cabin Republicans of Miami applauded Bondi’s decision saying that it is Bondi’s job to uphold the law whether she agrees with it or not.
“It is the job of the Attorney General to defend the Constitution of their respective states,” said Mimi Planas, president of the Miami chapter of LCR. “They are sworn under oath to do so and I not only respect Pam Bondi for doing her job but I admire her determination to do so even in the face of malicious attacks.”
Planas believes that it’s better for these marriage equality cases to work their way through the courts rather than dropping them and potentially creating legal chaos.
“If the Attorney General were to drop the appeals today and allow the rulings to go through (un-appealed), hurray! The LGBT community in Monroe County, Miami Dade County and Broward County would be able to legally marry. Would the people from any other county be able to marry? No. This ruling would only apply to those counties,” she said. “This case is making its way through the court system, as it should. This should not be a ‘special’ case. The fact that the Attorney General is trying to get it settled with the Florida Supreme Court now should be applauded, not demonized.”
Planas even goes so far to say Bondi is doing the gay community a favor.
“Pam Bondi is actually helping the cause, not hurting it.”
Not everyone though agrees with Planas’ analysis.
“I believe at least 7 other state's attorney's general have declined to defend the appeals once courts in those states ruled that the bans violated the U.S. Constitution,” said Rand Hoch, a retired judge and president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
But actually there is already a precedent in Florida for dropping such an appeal and letting a lower court’s decision stand.
In 2010 Bondi’s predecessor Republican Bill McCollum decided to not appeal after an appellate court overturned Florida’s ban on gay adoption.
At the time he said: “This is not the right case to take to the Supreme Court for its determination. A more suitable case will give the Supreme Court the opportunity to uphold the constitutionality of this law."
Former Gov. Charlie Crist, at the time a Republican, also decided to not appeal the case.
“The gay adoption ban was put into place by the Florida legislature, not by 60 percent of the voters. So in reality there is no precedence for this particular case,” Planas said.
In Bondi’s brief to the federal Eleventh Circuit Court she wrote: “States have virtually exclusive authority to define and regulate marriage. No fundamental right is at issue here because same-sex marriage is not deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition."
LGBT rights activist Michael Rajner offers up a different theory on why Bondi is so intent on appealing the gay marriage rulings.
“Bondi is obviously preparing herself for a run for Florida Governor,” he said.