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Florida Keys Residents Celebrate Gay Marriage Ruling

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Aaron Huntsman, left, and William Lee Jones, right, embrace during a celebration Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Key West, Fla. Jones and Hunstman and about 100 other people marked a  Florida Keys judge's ruling overturning Florida's ban on same-sex marriage on Thursday after a legal challenge. But an appeal by the Florida Attorney General's office changed the couple's plans to get married.  (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

Aaron Huntsman, left, and William Lee Jones, right, embrace during a celebration Thursday, July 17, 2014, in Key West, Fla. Jones and Hunstman and about 100 other people marked a Florida Keys judge’s ruling overturning Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage on Thursday after a legal challenge. But an appeal by the Florida Attorney General’s office changed the couple’s plans to get married. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

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KEY WEST (CBSMiami/Florida Keys News Bureau) – Nearly 100 people gathered in a Key West nightclub Thursday night to celebrate as a Florida Keys judge legalized same-sex marriage in Monroe County.  The county encompasses the entire island chain.

The ruling came Thursday as Circuit Judge Luis Garcia decided Florida’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriage was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Key West residents Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, a couple for 11 years, filed a lawsuit protesting the ban.

“I actually dropped my phone when I got the call,” said Jones during the celebration at Key West’s Aqua nightclub. “I was so excited, so proud and happy, so glad that we made it this far so far.”

Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, filed an appeal Thursday afternoon that changed the couple’s plans to wed. But that didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of those celebrating in Key West, recognized for decades for its openness and accepting gay-friendly attitude.

Judge Garcia, whose ruling applies only to Monroe County, initially said same-sex couples in the Keys could get marriage licenses as early as Tuesday. However, the appeal will likely delay their issuance for an undetermined time.

Huntsman said the appeal was expected, but the ban is hurtful and wrong.

“We did this to change the laws for everybody in the state of Florida — not just for us, but for all the people that have been hurting over this undue law that is not right,” said Huntsman. “We thought that just two average guys could be able to maybe make a difference, especially here in Monroe County.”

Key West elected an openly gay mayor in 1983, and many other high-profile elected and appointed civic positions have been and are held by gays. The city and surrounding Monroe County adopted the motto One Human Family more than a dozen years ago, proclaiming equality and acceptance for everyone.

The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.

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