April Dawn Breeden, left, and longtime partner Crystal Peairs are married by the Rev. Katie Hotze-Wilton at St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday, November 5. A Missouri judge on November 5 overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages and ordered registrars to start issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia allow marriage for same-sex couples.April Dawn Breeden, left, and longtime partner Crystal Peairs are married by the Rev. Katie Hotze-Wilton at St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday, November 5. A Missouri judge on November 5 overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages and ordered registrars to start issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia allow marriage for same-sex couples.

Rachael Beierle, left, and Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan, center, laugh at a joke during Amber Beierle's wedding vows Wednesday, October 15, at City Hall in Boise, Idaho. With Boise Mayor Dave Bieter out of town, Jordan officiated the wedding as acting mayor. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court found that same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and neighboring Nevada were unconstitutional.Rachael Beierle, left, and Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan, center, laugh at a joke during Amber Beierle's wedding vows Wednesday, October 15, at City Hall in Boise, Idaho. With Boise Mayor Dave Bieter out of town, Jordan officiated the wedding as acting mayor. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court found that same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and neighboring Nevada were unconstitutional.

Chad Biggs, left, and his fiance, Chris Creech, say their wedding vows in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday, October 10, after a federal judge ruled that same-sex marriage can begin there.Chad Biggs, left, and his fiance, Chris Creech, say their wedding vows in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Friday, October 10, after a federal judge ruled that same-sex marriage can begin there.

Joshua Gunter, right, and Bryan Shields attend a rally in Las Vegas to celebrate an appeals court ruling that overturned Nevada's same-sex marriage ban on Tuesday, October 7.Joshua Gunter, right, and Bryan Shields attend a rally in Las Vegas to celebrate an appeals court ruling that overturned Nevada's same-sex marriage ban on Tuesday, October 7.

From left, plaintiffs Moudi Sbeity; his partner, Derek Kitchen; Kody Partridge; and Partridge's wife, Laurie Wood, celebrate after a news conference in Salt Lake City on Monday, October 6. The U.S. Supreme Court had just cleared the way for legal same-sex marriages in five more states -- Virginia, Utah, Nevada, Indiana and Wisconsin.From left, plaintiffs Moudi Sbeity; his partner, Derek Kitchen; Kody Partridge; and Partridge's wife, Laurie Wood, celebrate after a news conference in Salt Lake City on Monday, October 6. The U.S. Supreme Court had just cleared the way for legal same-sex marriages in five more states -- Virginia, Utah, Nevada, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Abbi Huber, left, and Talia Frolkis exit the City County Building in Madison, Wisconsin, after applying for a marriage license on October 6.Abbi Huber, left, and Talia Frolkis exit the City County Building in Madison, Wisconsin, after applying for a marriage license on October 6.

Rob MacPherson, right, and his husband, Steven Stolen, hug during a news conference at the American Civil Liberties Union in Indianapolis on October 6.Rob MacPherson, right, and his husband, Steven Stolen, hug during a news conference at the American Civil Liberties Union in Indianapolis on October 6.

Mary Bishop, second from left, and Sharon Baldwin, right, celebrate with family and friends following their wedding ceremony on the courthouse steps in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on October 6.Mary Bishop, second from left, and Sharon Baldwin, right, celebrate with family and friends following their wedding ceremony on the courthouse steps in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on October 6.

Jennifer Melsop, left, and Erika Turner kiss after they were married in front of the Arlington County Courthouse in Arlington, Virginia, on October 6.Jennifer Melsop, left, and Erika Turner kiss after they were married in front of the Arlington County Courthouse in Arlington, Virginia, on October 6.

Pastor Carol Hill from Epworth United Methodist Church speaks during a marriage-equality ceremony at the Kathy Osterman Beach in Chicago on Sunday, June 1. June 1 marked the first day that all of Illinois' 102 counties could begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.Pastor Carol Hill from Epworth United Methodist Church speaks during a marriage-equality ceremony at the Kathy Osterman Beach in Chicago on Sunday, June 1. June 1 marked the first day that all of Illinois' 102 counties could begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

William Roletter, left, and Paul Rowe, right, press close to each other after having their photo taken with their newly acquired marriage certificate Wednesday, May 21, at City Hall in Philadelphia.William Roletter, left, and Paul Rowe, right, press close to each other after having their photo taken with their newly acquired marriage certificate Wednesday, May 21, at City Hall in Philadelphia.

Julie Engbloom, left, and Laurie Brown embrace after they were wed in Portland, Oregon, on Monday, May 19. A federal judge struck down the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.Julie Engbloom, left, and Laurie Brown embrace after they were wed in Portland, Oregon, on Monday, May 19. A federal judge struck down the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

Jennifer Rambo, right, kisses her partner, Kristin Seaton, after their marriage ceremony in front of the Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on Saturday, May 10. Rambo and Seaton were the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in Eureka Springs after a judge overturned Amendment 83, which banned same-sex marriage in Arkansas. Jennifer Rambo, right, kisses her partner, Kristin Seaton, after their marriage ceremony in front of the Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, on Saturday, May 10. Rambo and Seaton were the first same-sex couple to be granted a marriage license in Eureka Springs after a judge overturned Amendment 83, which banned same-sex marriage in Arkansas.

Same-sex couples get their marriage licenses at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac, Michigan, on Saturday, March 22, a day after a federal judge overturned Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.Same-sex couples get their marriage licenses at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac, Michigan, on Saturday, March 22, a day after a federal judge overturned Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

Utah state Sen. Jim Dabakis, left, and Stephen Justesen acknowledge the crowd after being married in Salt Lake City on Friday, December 20. A federal judge struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it conflicted with the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Many Utah counties began issuing marriage licenses before the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court temporarily blocked enforcement of the lower court ruling until the constitutional questions were fully resolved.Utah state Sen. Jim Dabakis, left, and Stephen Justesen acknowledge the crowd after being married in Salt Lake City on Friday, December 20. A federal judge struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it conflicted with the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Many Utah counties began issuing marriage licenses before the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court temporarily blocked enforcement of the lower court ruling until the constitutional questions were fully resolved.

Plaintiffs Laurie Wood, left, and Kody Partridge, center, walk with attorney Peggy Tomsic on Wednesday, December 4, after a judge heard arguments challenging Utah's same-sex marriage ban.Plaintiffs Laurie Wood, left, and Kody Partridge, center, walk with attorney Peggy Tomsic on Wednesday, December 4, after a judge heard arguments challenging Utah's same-sex marriage ban.

Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie, left, and former Sen. Avery Chumbley celebrate with a copy of the Star-Advertiser after Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii on Wednesday, November 13.Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie, left, and former Sen. Avery Chumbley celebrate with a copy of the Star-Advertiser after Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii on Wednesday, November 13.

Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker officiates a wedding ceremony for Joseph Panessidi and Orville Bell at City Hall in October 2013. The state Supreme Court denied the state's request to prevent same-sex marriages temporarily, clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry.Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker officiates a wedding ceremony for Joseph Panessidi and Orville Bell at City Hall in October 2013. The state Supreme Court denied the state's request to prevent same-sex marriages temporarily, clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry.

A couple celebrates at San Francisco City Hall upon hearing about the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage in June 2013. The high court cleared the way for same-sex couples in California to resume marrying after dismissing an appeal on Proposition 8 on jurisdictional grounds. The court also struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. A couple celebrates at San Francisco City Hall upon hearing about the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage in June 2013. The high court cleared the way for same-sex couples in California to resume marrying after dismissing an appeal on Proposition 8 on jurisdictional grounds. The court also struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

At the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton signs a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in May 2013.At the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton signs a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in May 2013.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell holds up legislation in May 2013 allowing same-sex couples to wed in the state.Delaware Gov. Jack Markell holds up legislation in May 2013 allowing same-sex couples to wed in the state.

Rhode Island state Sen. Donna Nesselbush, right, embraces a supporter after the Marriage Equality Act was signed into law at the statehouse in Providence in May 2013.Rhode Island state Sen. Donna Nesselbush, right, embraces a supporter after the Marriage Equality Act was signed into law at the statehouse in Providence in May 2013.

Jamous Lizotte, right, and Steven Jones pose for photos while waiting for a marriage license in Portland, Maine, in December 2012.Jamous Lizotte, right, and Steven Jones pose for photos while waiting for a marriage license in Portland, Maine, in December 2012.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, shakes hands with Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller after signing a same-sex marriage bill in March 2012. The law was challenged, but voters approved marriage equality in a November 2012 referendum.Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, shakes hands with Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller after signing a same-sex marriage bill in March 2012. The law was challenged, but voters approved marriage equality in a November 2012 referendum.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire celebrates after signing marriage-equality legislation into law on February 13, 2012. Voters there approved same-sex marriage in November 2012.Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire celebrates after signing marriage-equality legislation into law on February 13, 2012. Voters there approved same-sex marriage in November 2012.

Phyllis Siegel, right, kisses her wife, Connie Kopelov, after exchanging vows at the Manhattan City Clerk's office on July 24, 2011, the first day New York's Marriage Equality Act went into effect.Phyllis Siegel, right, kisses her wife, Connie Kopelov, after exchanging vows at the Manhattan City Clerk's office on July 24, 2011, the first day New York's Marriage Equality Act went into effect.

In 2010, television reporter Roby Chavez, right, shares a moment with gay rights activist Frank Kameny during Chavez and Chris Roe's wedding ceremony in the nation's capital. Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington in March 2010.In 2010, television reporter Roby Chavez, right, shares a moment with gay rights activist Frank Kameny during Chavez and Chris Roe's wedding ceremony in the nation's capital. Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington in March 2010.

Olin Burkhart, left, and Carl Burkhart kiss on the steps of the New Hampshire Capitol in January 2010 after the state's law allowing same-sex marriage went into effect.Olin Burkhart, left, and Carl Burkhart kiss on the steps of the New Hampshire Capitol in January 2010 after the state's law allowing same-sex marriage went into effect.

Maine state Sen. Dennis Damon, left, hands Gov. John Baldacci the bill that the state Senate passed in May 2009 to affirm the right of same-sex couples to marry.Maine state Sen. Dennis Damon, left, hands Gov. John Baldacci the bill that the state Senate passed in May 2009 to affirm the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Amy Klein-Matheny, left, and her wife, Jennifer, exchange vows in Iowa after same-sex couples were allowed to marry there with a court ruling in April 2009.Amy Klein-Matheny, left, and her wife, Jennifer, exchange vows in Iowa after same-sex couples were allowed to marry there with a court ruling in April 2009.

Michael Miller, left, and Ross Zachs marry on the West Hartford Town Hall steps after same-sex marriages became legal in Connecticut on November 12, 2008.Michael Miller, left, and Ross Zachs marry on the West Hartford Town Hall steps after same-sex marriages became legal in Connecticut on November 12, 2008.

Lara Ramsey, left, and her partner of eight years, Jane Lohmann, play with their 7-month-old son, Wyatt Ramsey-Lohmann. The two wed in 2004 after Massachusetts approved same-sex marriage. Massachusetts was the first state to do so.Lara Ramsey, left, and her partner of eight years, Jane Lohmann, play with their 7-month-old son, Wyatt Ramsey-Lohmann. The two wed in 2004 after Massachusetts approved same-sex marriage. Massachusetts was the first state to do so.








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  • Supreme Court declines to further delay judge's ruling that state's ban is unconstitutional

  • "This is a thrilling day for all Florida families," ACLU of Florida attorney says

  • Ban to be lifted January 5, but appeals court could rule later

  • Official expresses "confusion" over whether all counties will issue licenses




(CNN) -- Florida appears set to recognize same-sex marriages on January 6, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declined to further delay a lower court's finding that the state's ban on the unions is unconstitutional.


The high court Friday night, without explanation, rejected the Florida attorney general's request to intervene. A U.S. District judge in Florida had ruled in August the state's ban was unconstitutional but stayed the ruling to allow for appeals.


The case hasn't been completely settled.


Neither the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals nor the Supreme Court have ruled on the merits, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has defended the ban, has expressed "confusion" over whether all 67 counties will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples before appeals are settled.


But the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said it expects the state to fully recognize same-sex marriages when U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle's stay expires at the end of January 5.


"This is a thrilling day for all Florida families. As we explained to the court, every day that the ban remains in place, couples are suffering real harms," ACLU of Florida attorney Daniel Tilley said. "We are grateful that the court recognized that, and that as a result, those days are finally coming to an end."


Florida would become the 36th state to recognize same-sex marriage, in addition to the District of Columbia.


In August, Hinkle ruled the Florida ban -- first put into law in 1977 and written into the state's constitution after a 2008 referendum -- violates the "due process" and "equal protection" provisions in the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.


His ruling applied to whether same-sex couples can marry in Florida as well as to whether such marriages elsewhere should be recognized in the Sunshine State.


As part of the ruling, Hinkle ordered that Washington County, Florida, must issue a marriage license to two plaintiffs -- a same-sex couple -- who sued the state. He then stayed his own ruling, saying some time needed to pass to allow higher courts to reverse his decision.


Bondi filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit. That court has yet to hear, or schedule a hearing on, arguments on the merits.


Both Hinkle and the 11th Circuit declined this fall to extend the stay. On Monday, Bondi asked the high court to extend the delay until the state exhausted its appeals.


"The public is not served by on-again, off-again marriage laws," her office argued in this week's application.


After the Supreme Court declined to intervene, Bondi issued a statement acknowledging January 5 as the stay's final day. But, earlier this week, she said that there would be "confusion about the effect of (Hinkle's ruling), which is directed to only one of Florida's 67 clerks of court."


Bondi's statement didn't directly address her earlier county concerns. A Bondi spokeswoman did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment Saturday on whether all 67 counties must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once Hinkle's stay expires.


Tilley, the ACLU of Florida attorney, indicated that he expects they will.


"We expect public officials in all of Florida's 67 counties to understand the significance of this development and look forward to full implementation of Judge Hinkle's decision across our state," Tilley said.


U.S. district and circuit courts overturned many states' same-sex marriage bans after the Supreme Court rejected parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.


One federal appeals court -- the Sixth Circuit -- upheld bans in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky in November, a move that could force the Supreme Court to take up the issue.


CNN's Joe Sutton and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.



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