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Fla. Same-Sex Marriages Begin After Miami Judge's Order

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on January 05, 2015 5:46 PM

Florida's first same-sex marriages took place Monday afternoon in Miami-Dade County, after a judge lifted her stay on a ruling finding the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

The weddings began about 1:30 p.m., reports The Miami Herald. The marriages in Miami-Dade County come just hours before court clerks across Florida will be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples by order of a federal court judge.

What are the details behind Florida's path to becoming one of the 36 states, along with Washington D.C., where gay marriage is now legally recognized?

Stay Lifted on Florida State Court Decision

Same-sex marriages began taking place in Miami-Dade County after Florida Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay she had placed on her own earlier ruling. Zabel held that the state's same-sex marriage prohibition was an unconstitutional violation of same-sex couples' equal protection rights. The ruling had been stayed pending appeals

Following Zabel's order lifting the stay, Miami-Dade County's clerk of courts began allowing same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses. Among the first couples to be married: two of the six couples that had originally filed the lawsuit.

Federal Court Decision Takes Effect After Midnight

Zabel's order comes less than a day before a federal court decision that also found Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional is scheduled to take effect, allowing same-sex marriage throughout the state.

The August ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle found Florida's gay marriage band unconstitutionally denied gay couples the fundamental right to marry. Court clerks in many counties across Florida are prepared to start marrying same-sex couples at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

In several conservative counties, however, clerks are no longer officiating marriages (same-sex or otherwise) in their offices, reports the Miami Herald. Still, clerks in those counties are required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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