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Florida Gay Marriage Ban Lifted; First Couples Wed

Image: Florida Gay Marriage Ban Lifted; First Couples Wed
Newlyweds Karla Arguello, left and Catherina Pareto walk out of the Miami courthouse as the first couple to marry in Florida after Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel presided over the marriage of the couple during a ceremony in the judges courtroom on January 5, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 10:18 AM

Florida's gay marriage ban was lifted Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., making America's third-most populous state the 36th in the nation to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Catherina Pareto, of Coconut Grove, and her partner of 14 years, Karla Arguello, were the first same-sex couple married in the state, The Associated Press reported.

Jeff and Todd Delmay were also married at the Miami courthouse. 12 years ago, Jeff Delsol and Todd May — who combined their surnames — bought $10 silver wedding bands while on vacation in Hawaii. They switched them from their right hands to their left hands at the courthouse ceremony.

"We have been reserving that spot for when it became official," said Todd. "This means so much to us."

According to The Miami Herald, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel declared the ban unconstitutional in July, but stayed the decision, pending appeal. The following month, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Hinkle of Tallahassee also overturned the ban. Hinkle also stayed his decision until the end of Monday.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, asked for extensions of the stay, but the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court refused.

Ahead of the lifting of the ban, court clerks in some Florida counties asked to be transferred to new positions so that they would not have to officiate same-sex unions. Reason.com reported that 14 counties will stop performing all wedding ceremonies — opposite-sex and same-sex — at their respective courthouses in the wake of the decision.

All of the clerks and courthouses will still issue marriage licenses in accordance with the law.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is now exploring a possible presidential run, opposed gay marriage while governor, but, like many politicians both Republican and Democrat, has more recently said marriage should be defined by each state.

The U.S. Supreme Court will on Friday decide whether or not to rule on gay marriage at the federal level during its current term.

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Florida's gay marriage ban was lifted Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., making America's third-most populous state the 36th in the nation to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
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Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 10:18 AM
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