The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to block gay marriages in Florida, the latest of about three dozen states allowing same-sex weddings.
In a one-paragraph order, the court decided not to step into the Florida case. A federal judge previously declared Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and said same-sex marriage licenses could start being issued in the state after Jan. 5 unless the Supreme Court intervened.
"This is a thrilling day for all Florida families," Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties of Florida, said in a statement. "As we explained to the court, every day that the ban remains in place, couples are suffering real harms. We are grateful that the court recognized that, and that as a result, those days are finally coming to an end."
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has fought to uphold the state's ban, said in a statement that her goal was "to have uniformity" throughout the state while various legal challenges were pursued in both state and federal courts.
"Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on Jan. 5," Bondi said.
In August, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle declared the state's ban unconstitutional, but he put his ruling on hold until after Jan. 5 pending appeals.
Like many other judges and appellate courts, Hinkle ruled the ban approved by voters in 2008 violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.