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Same-Sex Marriages Begin in Florida

PHOTO: This week marks the beginning of legal same-sex marriages in Florida, although the fate of other states' same-sex marriage bans could eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo credit: FlemishDreams/FeaturePics.com.
PHOTO: This week marks the beginning of legal same-sex marriages in Florida, although the fate of other states' same-sex marriage bans could eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo credit: FlemishDreams/FeaturePics.com.
January 6, 2015

MIAMI - On Monday, Miami-Dade County became the first Florida county to allow same-sex marriages.

The ruling was made in the courtroom of Judge Sarah Zabel, one of a handful of circuit court judges who had earlier ruled the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages to be discriminatory. As she lifted the stay on her ruling a day earlier than expected, her courtroom erupted in celebration.

A few hours after clearing the way for marriage ceremonies to begin, Zabel began officiating Florida's first same-sex marriages, becoming the 36th state to do so. Clerks soon began issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Deborah Shure and her partner of 15 years, Aymahra Robles, were the first in line to receive one of the new licenses. Shure says it's about time their relationship was legally acknowledged in Florida.

"For us, it means the state recognizes our relationship and the right of people to choose who they want to love," she says. "I'm still crying, and I don't think it's going to stop today, until tomorrow, until everyone has equal rights in this country."

In many of Florida's 66 other counties, same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses at midnight Tuesday morning, and many weddings were held overnight in mass ceremonies.

Jeff Delmay and his soon-to-be husband Todd Delmay could have married elsewhere, but Delmay says they waited until now to officially 'tie the knot.'

"Florida is our home," he says. "We always wanted to get married here. It means so much to us and our family and our life here, so it just didn't feel right for us to go somewhere else, although many couples did. We just decided we wanted to stay and fight, and do whatever we could to help make today possible."

The state's 2008 voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriages was first overturned by courts last summer. Federal Judge Robert Hinkle upheld the ruling by lower courts, but delayed the decision until Jan. 6 to allow the appeals process to play out.

Later this week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear challenges to same-sex marriage bans in four states: Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

Phil Latzman, Public News Service - FL