Mitch Perry Report for 2.10.15 — Alabama’s chief justice goes where Pam Bondi wouldn’t
Image via The Associated Press

Attorney General Pam Bondi has earned the ire of Democrats, gay rights advocates and plenty of newspaper editorial writers over the years for her obstinate resistance to same-sex marriage in Florida. One thing can definitely be said about her fervent opposition, though: She never defied a federal judge’s order, which is exactly what Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore did Monday.

Moore told Alabama probate judges to go ahead and defy a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That led to a chaotic situation Monday where same-sex couples in Montgomery and Birmingham were able to go to their county courthouse to get a marriage license, but couples throughout the rest of the state were mainly out of luck. Most of those judges took Moore’s words as protection to let them do what they wanted to do, which was not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In 2006, 81 percent of Alabama voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In 2008, 62 percent of Florida voters OK’d a similar measure.

Some legal observers think Moore has a legal leg to stand on.  The Daily Beast reports that UF law professor Howard Wasserman says that probate judges are not covered by the federal injunction to issue marriage licenses.

But back to Bondi. It should be noted that a number of attorneys general throughout the country stopped fighting the federal courts, even in states that passed anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2013. AG’s like California’s Kamela Harris  (of whom Bondi frequently cites in her speeches). Last year Kentucky’s Jack Conway, also announced he was giving up fighting the courts on the issue. “There are those who believe it is my mandatory duty, regardless of my personal opinion, to continue to defend through the appellate process,” he said. “However, I came to the inescapable conclusion that if I did so, I would be defending discrimination and that I will not do.”

Those were words that Bondi could have said, but never did.

But hey — at least she didn’t challenge Federal Judge Robert L. Finkle‘s order in January that effectively legalized same-sex marriage in Florida. So, there’s that.

In other news …

Sami Al-Arian may be in Turkey now, but the emotions around the controversial former USF professor haven’t abated. Or at least USF Board of Trustees member Dick Beard’s attitude hasn’t.

A lawsuit challenging the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission’s $50 minimum fee for limousines has been in litigation for over a year now, but a Hillsborough County Circuit Court judge may rule on its constitutionality within the next month.

Playing partisan politics in a nonpartisan election? Oh my! The Florida Democratic Party sends out a mailer to Tampa residents calling out the Republicans running for City Council next month.

And Florida CAIR hopes  that the NRA will join it in getting behind a black man legally carrying a concealed weapon in a Brandon Walmart last month who was pummeled by a younger white guy, for, well, I guess you could decide that on your own …

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]


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