FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – More than 100 couples made history in Broward County overnight as they were the first to wed legally as same-sex couples.
Same sex couples began arriving at the Broward County Courthouse Monday night to celebrate this momentous occasion in their lives. They grabbed a number, took a seat in the courthouse jury room and prepared to be wed.
After the county began issuing marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m., a total of 106 couples tied the knot in two group ceremonies.
“It feels great to be accepted by society and to be part of society and to no longer be a second class citizen,” said newly married Joanne Stiger.
Robert Rhoads and Michael Zemblidge, together for 30 years, said their vows in front of fellow churchgoers at Sunshine Cathedral Tuesday.
Rhoads and Zemblidge were one of 106 couples who received their marriage license this morning at the Broward County courthouse.
“It wasn’t even on our radar screens that this would ever become a reality and here we are,” Rhoads said.
“It means we’re equal,” said Zemblidge. “We have equal rights with everybody else. We have the same protection.”
The ministers at the predominantly LGBT church have officiated same-sex ceremonies for years, but they said it’s a joy for the union to be legally recognized by the State of Florida as well.
“There are lots of things that make a relationship sacred and the gender identities of the people are not in the mix. What makes a relationship sacred is love and th 27th state has become the 36th state to recognize that,” said Minister Durrell Watkins.
Five group weddings took place, the first one was held at 2 AM.
“I feel amazing, it’s great, I couldn’t be happier,” said David Currie who wed partner Aaron Woodard.
“I just feel so legitimized. I feel so in love and so happy that we can share and be part of something so much bigger than just us,” said Woodard.
One couple waited nearly five decades to be married.
“It means recognition to the whole world. It means equality. It means we’re no different than anybody else who’s in love and wants to get married,” said Roberta Marpet.
“In the course of the history of the struggles we’ve been having, this really feels like a day that’s magnificent and unique,” said new bride Arlene Louis.
U-S District Judge Robert Hinkle used a lawsuit, filed on behalf of two north Florida same-sex couples, as the basis for his August 21st ruling that the state’s same-sex marriage ban — overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2008 — was unconstitutional. Hinkle stayed his ruling until Tuesday, January 6th.
After many legal twists and turns, his ruling stood and paved the road for equality in the Sunshine State.
“It’s been hurtful not being able and somebody stopping it, putting a hold, putting a stay, arguing it’s not normal. It’s been very hurtful,” said Tammy Lopez.
By 6 pm, the Broward Clerk of Courts told CBS 4 News that 78 marriage licenses had been issued to same sex couples since 8 am Tuesday morning. That is in addition to the 106 couples who were wed in several mass weddings overnight at the courthouse.
The Broward County Courthouse clerk’s office says they are staying open longer than usual to accommodate the same-sex couples looking to wed.
Tuesday night they are staying open two hours late, until 7 p.m.
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