KEY WEST, Fla. - A Florida Keys judge who ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional won't lift a stay while his ruling is being appealed.
Monroe County Judge Luis M. Garcia denied an emergency motion filed Monday morning by the attorney for two Key West bartenders challenging Florida's same-sex marriage ban.
Garcia ruled last week that the ban on same-sex marriage added to the state constitution by Florida voters in 2008 is discriminatory and violates gay people's right to equal treatment under the law.
Bernadette Restivo, who represents Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, wrote in her emergency motion that "lifting the stay during the pendency of this appeal will not cause the state to suffer any irreparable harm."
Garcia ruled marriage licenses could be issued in Monroe County beginning Tuesday. That was blocked by an automatic stay triggered when Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi filed notice of the state's appeal.
Restivo cited in her motion that her clients and other same-sex couples "are being deprived of important constitutional rights" every day that goes by.
Bondi's office fired back by requesting the court to deny the motion.
"The United States Supreme Court has issued orders staying lower court decisions regarding same-sex marriage lawsuits," attorney Adam Tanenbaum wrote in his opposition to the motion. "So have several federal courts of appeals. And many trial courts have stayed their orders on their own. They have all acted to maintain the status quo while the issues presented are resolved."
Huntsman said he was hopeful the state's first same-sex marriage license would be issued Tuesday, but he remains optimistic that it will happen soon.
"It's going to happen," Huntsman told Local 10 News. "There's just no denying it."
Lawsuits challenging Florida's gay marriage ban are also pending in Miami-Dade County and Tallahassee federal court.
"I think he upheld the stay so that it would go to the next level, and once it goes to that next level it stands a better chance of becoming statewide," Jones said.
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