Florida becomes 36th state to legalize gay marriage
By Tribune wire reports
Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage ended statewide at the stroke of midnight Monday, and court clerks in some Florida counties wasted no time, issuing marriage licenses and performing weddings for same-sex couples overnight.
But they were beaten to the punch by a Miami judge who found no need to wait until the statewide ban expired. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel presided over Florida’s first legally recognized same-sex marriages Monday afternoon.
Still, most counties held off on official ceremonies until after midnight early Tuesday, when U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle’s ruling that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban is un-constitutional took effect in all 67 counties. Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, is still pursuing state and federal appeals seeking to uphold the ban voters approved in 2008, but her effort to block these weddings until the courts finally rule was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
And now that same-sex marriage is a reality in Florida, Bondi’s spokeswoman told The Associated Press “The judge has ruled, and we wish these couples the best.”
The addition of Florida’s 19.9 million people means 70 percent of Americans now live in the 36 states where gay marriage is legal.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’re just so excited and so happy,” said Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb moments after she married Patti Daugherty, her partner of 22 years, at the Osceola County Courthouse in Kissimmee, just south of Orlando. Dressed in matching white pants and white embroidered shirts, the couple stood under a canopy of lace and ribbons as County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez officiated and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., served as a witness. A count-down clock was placed in the front of the room, and supporters counted down to midnight 10 seconds before the clock struck 12.
“I’m hyped up at the moment,” said Grieb, whose marriage was the first in Osceola County and was followed by 27 others in the early morning hours.
Outside the courthouse, about 20 protesters held signs reading “God says male and female should be married” and “Sodom and Gomorrah,” but same-sex marriage supporters ignored them.
Cheers erupt in Florida court after judge rules same-sex marriages can begin Supporters of same-sex marriage erupted into cheers and tearful hugs after a judge ruled that same-sex marriages could begin in Miami-Dade County on Monday.