Rejecting a request by Florida's attorney general to maintain a judge's stay that would have kept same-sex couples from marrying in the state, the Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriages to be held in Florida next month.
The stay stems from a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, who said in August that Florida's 2008 ban is unconstitutional.
As has happened with many similar cases, Judge Hinkle issued a stay on his own ruling that Florida's ban was illegal, to give the state time to appeal. That stay is set to expire at the end of the day on Jan. 5.
The state took its request for a longer stay to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. But a three-judge panel declined to prolong the stay.
Things heated back up this week, after Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a request with Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees the 11th Circuit, asking him to extend the stay.
The ACLU of Florida responded to Thomas' request for a plaintiffs' response Thursday, saying, "Florida cannot continue to deny fundamental rights to certain groups of people simply because it has done so in the past."
The Supreme Court issued its order Friday, in a short statement:
"The application for stay presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.
"Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas would grant the application for stay."