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Sep 12, 8:43 PM EDT

Florida officials appeal gay-marriage rulings



MIAMI (AP) -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed appeals late Friday on several rulings overturning the state's ban on gay marriage.

The motion argues the sole legal issue is the constitutional validity of the state ban and any changes should come from voters, not the courts. Florida voters approved the ban in 2008.

Bondi's office said the agency joined the appeals to promote an orderly and consistent resolution after several judges around the state recently overturned Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. Bondi has asked judges to stop ruling on same-sex marriage cases until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether states can ban gay marriage. A number of similar rulings around the country have been put on hold while appeals are pursued.

The Supreme Court is the ultimate authority and "that court has held that a traditional definition of marriage does not implicate federal due process or equal protection," according to the motion.

Judges in four Florida counties - Palm Beach, Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward- have overturned the ban. A federal judge has also overturned the ban. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled on Aug. 21 that the ban violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, pending possible appeals.

The latest Florida ruling came in a pair of lawsuits brought by gay couples seeking to marry in Florida and others who want to force Florida to recognize gay marriages performed legally in other states.

Bondi's motion argues that the question is not whether the gay marriage ban is a good policy, but whether the ban rationally relates to a legitimate state interest.

The issue "is whether a challenger can demonstrate that there is not even a conceivable reason for Florida voters to define marriage as they have."

Bondi, a Republican, has appealed previous rulings striking down the ban. Hinkle's ruling allows time for appeals in the federal case. Bondi wants the Florida cases to remain on hold pending a definitive national ruling on gay marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

No marriage licenses have been issued so far as the cases have either been appealed or judges have issued a stay to delay the effect of the ruling.

The Florida Supreme Court recently declined an appellate court's request to consider the constitutionality of the state's gay-marriage ban.

Gay-marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions against state same-sex marriage restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.

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