Florida same-sex couples prepare for marriage ban to fall at midnight

Staff Reports

Update: Miami-Dade County judge Sarah Zabel has lifted her stay, allowing same-sex couples in Miami-Dade County to begin marrying on Monday. More here


MIAMI — Florida‘s ban on marriages between same-sex couples is headed for a midnight end, with wedding vows planned around the state.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones completed their marriage application at Key West’s Monroe County Courthouse in front of circuit court clerk Amy Heavilin on Friday, January 2, 2015.AP

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones completed their marriage application at Key West’s Monroe County Courthouse in front of circuit court clerk Amy Heavilin on Friday, January 2, 2015.

A stay expires at end-of-day Monday in a federal judge’s ruling striking down the ban enacted in 2008 by voters.

Several court clerks are planning to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, with some also scheduling early-morning marriage ceremonies. Broward County clerk Howard Forman will begin issuing licenses at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and have a group wedding at 3 a.m. Osceola County and Palm Beach County are also planning post-midnight nuptials.

The first same-sex marriage license in the Florida Keys will be issued soon after midnight to two Key West men, acclaimed as pioneers in Florida’s fight for marriage equality.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones completed their marriage application at Key West’s Monroe County Courthouse in front of circuit court clerk Amy Heavilin.

Huntsman and Jones are the plaintiffs in one of four state challenges to Florida’s gay marriage ban; in their case, Florida Keys Judge Luis Garcia ruled last July that the ban was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

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In Miami Beach, same-sex couples married in other states are planning a mass renewal of vows Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, a Miami-Dade County judge has a hearing Monday morning on whether to lift a stay of her previous ruling invalidating the ban.

If Judge Sarah Zabel lifts the stay she put on her ruling back in July that the state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, at least two couples could exchange vows this afternoon in Miami-Dade County.

That hearing is set for 11 a.m.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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