KEY WEST (CBSMiami/FKNB) – Two Key West men, whose lawsuit helped pave the way for same-sex marriage equality in Florida, are to wed just after midnight Monday in the Florida Keys’ first same-sex marriage.
After 11 years together, Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who completed their application paperwork at Key West’s Monroe County Courthouse Friday, are to receive the Keys’ first marriage license and then exchange vows outside the courthouse.
“We felt in God’s eyes that we had been married this whole time,” said Huntsman.
“I’m a big ball of nerves right now — my stomach is in knots — but I’m so happy that I finally get to marry him,” said Jones as he stood beside Huntsman.
At Timmy Tuxedo’s Monday, Huntsman and Jones were fitted with white shirts, electric blue vests and traditional black bowties and tuxedos.
“That looks sharp,” said Huntsman to Jones. “You gonna wear the baseball cap tonight?” “Ya,” Jones replied.
For Jones, the wedding will mean removing an unwanted article of apparel — a large silver-toned bracelet that completely encircles his left wrist.
“A friend of ours gave it to me the day after we filed our lawsuit, and it’s been shackled on here ever since,” Jones said. “I call it my shackle of inequality. Tonight at midnight, I get to take it off.”
According to a spokesperson for the county clerk’s office in Key West, the office will open at 11:30 p.m. Monday night and prepare to issue up to 100 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Huntsman and Jones’ ceremony is to be the first in the county and in the Florida Keys.
“How wonderful it will be to finally say that he is my husband instead of just my partner and the fact that there’s been so many other people in this state waiting and now it’s coming through,” said Jones.
Stephan Romandetta and his partner Joel, will be among the couples looking to tie the knot after midnight.
“We got engaged three years ago on midnight which was my goal. At that point we always said we’re going to get our license and figure the rest out later, so that’s why we wanted to be one of the first in line today,” said Romandetta as he waited in line at the county Clerk of Courts office.
“What we’re doing is asking people to come in, do the process, pay in advance, fill out the paper work so at the stroke of midnight we can actually start issuing the licenses,” said Ron Saunders with the Clerk’s Office.
Romandetta said they plan to come back at midnight to get their license but will marry later surrounded by family and friends.
Michael Roth and Neil McMichael filled out their paperwork so they can marry after midnight too.
“Spiritually it’s very important to us,” said Roth. “We have a son, we have grandchildren. So this really brings it together in a rightful way.”
Back in July, in response to the Huntsman and Jones’s lawsuit protesting Florida’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriage, Florida Keys Judge Luis Garcia ruled that the ban was discriminatory and unconstitutional.
But the state appealed, putting wedding plans on hold for Huntsman and Jones — until New Year’s Day, when U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that Florida’s county court clerks can issue licenses to same-sex couples beginning at midnight Monday.
At the courthouse Friday, Huntsman and Jones displayed a certificate showing they had completed a pre-marital course, signed their application before circuit court clerk Amy Heavilin, and paid the fee that will allow them to receive their license and marry.
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.
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