Cheers echoed throughout a Miami-Dade County courtroom Monday after a Florida judge ruled the county can immediately start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, meaning Florida's first gay weddings may begin shortly. (Jan. 5)
"I think it's significant for this court, having issued this monumental order, to take the step of dissolving the stay today. The clerk wants a clarification, the plaintiffs are ready to go and perform and have the marriages done, and another day, another day where the plaintiffs do not have equal rights is a day that shames our country."
3. Cutaway of plaintiff's hands, tilt up to see couples in court
4. SOUNDBITE: (English) Judge Sarah Zabel, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida
"So in the big picture, does it really matter whether or not I lift this stay or leave it until tomorrow?
(attorney on phone: If you're asking me, your Honor, not from our perspective.)
Ok. Any response?
Ok. I'm lifting the stay."
5. Pull out to wide of court, pan over to plaintiffs cheering
A judge ruled Monday that same-sex couples can immediately start getting marriage licenses in Miami-Dade County, getting a jump-start on Florida's entry as the 36th state where gay marriages are legal statewide.
Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted a stay on her July ruling that Florida's same-sex marriage ban violates equal protections under the U.S. Constitution.
Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin says he will begin issuing licenses immediately, so the first gay and lesbian weddings could take place Monday afternoon. A gay rights group already lined up two couples to be the first.
Same-sex marriages were expected to begin statewide after midnight Tuesday, when a separate ruling by a federal judge takes effect. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle clarified on New Year's Day that his ruling would cover all 67 Florida counties.
Florida's same-sex marriage ban was enshrined in the state constitution in 2008 by voters, who approved it by a 60 percent margin.
But a series of rulings from judges in Florida - mirroring those in many other states - found the ban discriminatory and a violation of equal treatment and due process rights provided in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Opponents of same-sex marriage in Florida weren't giving up without a fight.
Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal group based in the Orlando area, planned to file complaints in several counties Monday in an effort to block clerks from issuing licenses to same-sex couples, said the group's lawyer, Horatio "Harry" Mihet.
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