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Published On: Wed, Oct 12th, 2016

Judge Craig Villanti’s caution, great attitude should give voters confidence for retention

While gay marriage made the headlines, one Florida case raises some eyebrows. In April, Keiba Lynn Shaw and Mariama Changamire Shaw, a Tampa lesbian couple who wed in Massachusetts, were denied a divorce in Hillsborough County. As the U.S. Supreme Court evaluated same-sex marriage, a call for pause rang loud over Pam Bondi’s call to deny a decision because it would legitimize the union in Florida.

 photo Julyo based on work by Gilbert Baker, 1979 via wikimedia commons

photo Julyo based on work by Gilbert Baker, 1979 via wikimedia commons

State Solicitor General Allen Winsor filed a motion asking that the court postpone arguments on the case until after the U.S. Supreme Court decided gay marriage bans. The issue “at the heart of this case is before the United States Supreme Court…” Winsor said. “That’s where the answer will come.”

Villanti seemed patient on the decision, suggesting that the state law prohibition on recognizing other state’s same-sex marriages doesn’t deny those couples access to courts because they could obtain divorces in the states they were married.

The attorneys noted that Massachusetts has “cumbersome” restrictions for out-of-state couples wishing to divorce, making it extremely difficult for the Shaws to get divorced there. They would have to move to Massachusetts and live there for an extended waiting period first.

“You are not allowed to go to Massachusetts just to obtain a divorce,” said attorney Deborah L. Thomson, who represents Keiba Shaw.

Villanti questioned whether the outcome of the federal cases will determine the outcome of the Shaw case because the federal cases don’t involve any divorces.

“If the United State Supreme Court were to say that the court is obligated to recognize the marriage, then the trial court in this case was wrong,” Winsor said. “I think that before the end of June, at the very latest, we’ll have some significant guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court on this case and all the others that are in the Florida courts.”

None of the judges sided with Bondi and the heated topic made headlines as Villanti wrote: “The Attorney General also does not address what public purpose might be served by precluding the dissolution of marriage of same-sex couples who were lawfully married outside of Florida but who now legally reside in Florida.”

ACCORDING TO THE DISPATCH: Villanti’s patience and pause never seemed agenda driven or pressured by the SCOTUS hearings. More praise for Villanti.

Continue reading for more case studies

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Adrienn Wiebe says:

    Thanks for posting such a detailed and thoughtful examination of Villanti record since he was appointment to Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeals. This article and the several case studies it reviewed provided a well-substantiated argument for retaining Judge Villantii in office.

    It has been difficult to find good reviews of the records of the 13 judges up for retention on the Florida ballot this election, but this was definitely the most helpful in my opinion. I really appreciated that this article cited cases and let them speak for themselves (clarifying when emphasis or opinions were added by the author).

    Great article – definitely solidified my decision to vote to retain Judge Villanti.

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