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Florida judge lifts stay, same‑sex marriages begin in Miami‑Dade County

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Same-sex couples in Miami celebrate Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel's lifting of the legal stay she had placed on her July decision declaring the wedding ban discriminatory, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, in Miami. Emily Michot, The Miami Herald (AP)

Same-sex couples in Miami celebrate Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel’s lifting of the legal stay she had placed on her July decision declaring the wedding ban discriminatory, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, in Miami.

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And Florida’s northern counties may see an influx of license applications by couples from other Southern states where marriage bans remain in place.

Sean Hudson, a spokesman for the state clerks’ association, said “the clerks are going to do what their duty is” and issue marriage licenses to any same-sex couples seeking them, even though some will no longer perform weddings, which is an optional part of their job.

Florida’s constitution was amended with a 62-38 percent vote to ban same-sex marriages in 2008. But judges in Florida, as in many other states, found that such bans violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment and due process.

Still, opponents weren’t giving up without a fight. Florida Family Action sued the Manatee County Clerk of Court Monday in an attempt to block the licenses. “That some clerks may issue licenses against the law doesn’t obviate any of the appeals,” said Horatio “Harry” Mihet, an attorney for another conservative advocacy group.

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Thirty-eight years ago, Bryant successfully campaigned to overturn a Dade County ordinance banning discrimination against gays. Two decades passed before the county commission reinstated those protections. Meanwhile, Bryant’s career suffered – as did Florida orange juice sales. She blamed the “ultra-liberal press.”

“They’re saying I’m a bigot and have hatred for the homosexuals,” she told The AP in 1977. “I don’t hate homosexuals. I love them enough to tell them the truth: that God puts them in the category with other sinners.”

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