MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The attorney for a gay couple asked a Florida Keys judge to lift a stay in his ruling that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The motion was denied.
It was filed Monday morning with Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia. The judge ruled last week that the ban on same-sex marriage added to the state constitution by Florida voters in 2008 is discriminatory and violates gay people’s right to equal treatment under the law.
Key West residents Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, a couple for 11 years, filed a lawsuit protesting the ban.
The couple was disappointed by the ruling, but still looking for the silver lining.
“It was a 50/50 chance,” said Huntsman. “We have more time to plan for a proper wedding now! It’s going to happen!”
Last week, Garcia ruled marriage licenses could be issued in Monroe County beginning Tuesday. That was blocked by an automatic stay triggered when Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi filed notice of the state’s appeal.
On Monday, Florida Governor Rick Scott defended the state’s position and Bondi’s appeal.
“The attorney general is doing her job,” said Governor Scott, “she’s appealing it, which is her job to defend the constitution. In my case,” he continued, “I believe in traditional marriage and I don’t ant anybody discriminated against. We’ll see what the courts do.”
In the emergency motion, the couple’s attorney argued gay couples should be allowed to marry starting Tuesday because of the initial ruling and because the state is unlikely to ultimately win an appeal. Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions against state marriage limits around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“Every day that goes by, plaintiffs and other same-sex couples are being deprived of important constitutional rights and suffering additional serious, ongoing, and irreparable dignitary, legal and economic harms,” the motion says. Huntsman and Jones are still optimistic, “In the long run we’re going to be victorious,” said Jones, “whether the state attorney general likes it or not.”
Lawsuits challenging Florida’s gay marriage ban are also pending in Miami-Dade County and Tallahassee federal court.
Gays have flocked to Key West since the judge’s ruling in anticipation that they could become the first group of same-sex couples to legally marry in Florida history.
The Monroe County clerk’s office has already changed marriage license forms from “husband and wife” to “first spouse, second spouse.” “It’s going to happen sooner or later,” said Huntsman, “I’m like ‘whether it happens tomorrow, or it doesn’t, it’s going to happen.’ We’re excited, we’re ready.”
Meanwhile, Miami’s Archbishop has responded to the ruling by the Monroe County judge.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski said he is pleased to hear State Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed the decision.
Archbishop Wenski said the ruling represents another salvo in the “culture wars” that ultimately seek to redefine the institution of marriage as solely for adult gratification.
Wenski said in a press release: “While Judge Garcia spoke of “rights,” the Catholic Church speaks of “right.” As I have said on other occasions, marriage, a union between one man and one woman and any children that arise from that union, is an institution that precedes Church and state; therefore neither Church nor state has any authority to change the nature of marriage. Since time immemorial, marriage has been primarily about the raising of children, who seem to be hardwired to be best raised by a father and a mother who are married to each other. Regardless of Catholic moral teaching on the subject, society has a legitimate interest in preserving marriage as a way of investing in the future of society by providing for the human flourishing of upcoming generations.”
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus curiae brief in the related consolidated case of Brenner v. Scott with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
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