A state appeals court on Thursday rejected a request by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to delay proceedings in two cases challenging the constitutionality of the state's ban on marriage for same-sex couples until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a national ruling on the matter.
"Upon consideration, appellant's motions to stay briefing are denied," Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal said in its order.
The order comes in response to Bondi's Aug. 7 requests to halt further proceedings in the cases of State of Florida v. Pareto and State of Florida v. Huntsman, in which the attorney general defends Florida's 2008 voter-approved ban on marriage for same-sex couples, until if and when the U.S. Supreme Court hands down a national ruling settling the issue.
Along with denying Bondi's requests, the court granted a motion to consolidate the two cases into a single case as it moves forward in court — a motion Bondi did not oppose.
"The Court has ruled that the case will move forward, and we will proceed accordingly," said Bondi spokeswoman, Jennifer Meale, in a statement to BuzzFeed.
In Aug. 7 filings to court, Bondi asked to halt proceedings in the cases, and said "… neither this Court nor the Florida Supreme Court can decide this federal issue with finality" and "In the meantime, this Court should preserve taxpayer and judicial resources by staying briefing until the United States Supreme Court rules."
"We are pleased the court recognizes the importance of this case to Florida families, who are being harmed every day the discriminatory marriage ban remains in effect, and denied Attorney General Bondi's improper request to stay the case," Shannon Minter, legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights and part of the legal team in the Pareto case, said in a statement. "The Florida courts have a responsibility to hear this case, and today's ruling means that the case will move full steam ahead."
The last line of the order, per Minter, indicates the appeals court will also consider plaintiffs' request for the Supreme Court of Florida to hear the case as it progresses. Just Wednesday, another Florida appeals court — the 2nd District Court of Appeal — approved a request for the state's supreme court to consider a separate case challenging the state's marriage ban.
A federal judge in Florida as well as judges in two other counties — Broward and Palm Beach — have also ruled against the state's marriage ban, but those decisions have been stayed pending appeal, meaning Florida same-sex couples have yet to have the ability to legally marry.