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News Release

Validity of the issuance of same sex marriage licenses by Florida Clerks awaits final court clarification

Sharon R. Bock, Esq., Clerk & Comptroller Palm Beach County remains ready to issue same sex marriage licenses upon clarification by the Court.

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (December 30, 2014) – “Although it is clear I have the power to issue marriage licenses, such an act would be meaningless without clarification of the validity of the issuance of same sex marriage licenses” said Clerk Sharon R. Bock, Esq.

On August 21, 2014, Judge Hinkle of Florida’s Northern District overturned Florida’s same sex marriage ban as unconstitutional and prevented the State from its enforcement effective midnight January 5th. This much is clear. What is not clear is to whom the order applies. Is it just the “named parties” in the Federal Court case in Washington County, the Washington County Clerk alone, or all 67 Clerks throughout the state?

On December 23rd, the Washington County Clerk filed an emergency motion asking Judge Hinkle for “immediate clarification as to the scope of the injunction and whether it extends to other non-party same sex couples.”

On December 24th Judge Hinkle ordered the defendant, Secretary of the Florida Department Management Services to respond to the Washington County Clerk of Courts emergency motion.

The response was received on December 29th from the Secretary of the Florida Department Management Services stating in summary that “this court is best situated to determine the reach of its own order,” leaving the validity of the issuance of same sex marriage licenses unresolved and awaiting further and final clarification from the Court.

Because the reach of Judge Hinkle’s order remains unclear, the question of the validity of a same sex marriage license issued by a Clerk on January 6th is still in question. A same sex marriage license even if issued by a Clerk, without further court clarification could have severe negative ramifications. Same sex couples who rely on such a license could harm their retirement, health insurance benefits, tuition, plans for their estate and much more.

Clerk Bock and the 66 Clerks statewide await Judge Hinkle’s final order on this issue.

For more information about the Clerk’s office, please visit www.mypalmbeachclerk.com or call
(561) 355-2996.

The Florida Constitution established the independent office of the Clerk & Comptroller as a public trustee, responsible for safeguarding public records and public funds. Clerk Sharon Bock is directly elected by and accountable to Palm Beach County residents.  In addition to the roles of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Recorder and Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners, the Clerk & Comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Auditor for Palm Beach County.

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Court documents filed since the entry in August of 2014

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