MIAMI – The ban on gay marriage in Florida will soon be lifted, but even with minutes ticking down there are some couples fighting for the right to marry immediately.
Gay couples across South Florida are also making last-minute plans as they wait to get married next week. Many same-sex couples have already filed their marriage applications, including a Key West couple who led the fight for marriage equality.
Florida is one step closer to making marriage history. It's a time Todd Delmay and his soon-to-be husband, Jeff, have been waiting for.
"(Monday) it comes to an end and Jan. 6 marriage equality comes to Florida," said Todd Delmay. "The state of Florida has done everything to keep us from getting married."
Nearly a year after teaming up with five other gay and lesbian couples -- and legally challenging Florida laws that forbid them to marry -- the Delmays will finally be able to do so as early as Monday.
"If Judge (Sarah) Zabel were to lift her stay tomorrow and allow us it would just be the icing on the cake for us," said Jeff Delmay.
The couple's lawsuit argued that denying legal protection for gay couples equal to other marriages violates the U.S. Constitution. In her July ruling, Zabel said "preventing couples from marrying solely on the basis of sexual orientation serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families equal dignity." The stay on her ruling could be lifted at a hearing Monday morning.
"Best case scenario is Judge Zabel lifts her stay and we immediately get marriage equality," said Todd Delmay. "Worst case is the stay lifts at midnight and then all states get marriage equality."
At this point, same-sex marriage feels like a slam dunk.
"It feels different this time," said Todd Delmay.
The Delmays said even if they're not the first to marry in the state, the important thing is that they can.
"We now have the right to do it and we can do it when we want," said Jeff Delmay.
In Monroe County, the first gay couple to apply for a license has completed their application.
"We are able to go forward be married once the stay is lifted at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, when the stay is lifted," said Aaron Huntsman.
In Broward County, the clerk is already changing the marriage applications from husband and wife to spouse and spouse. The county will issue licenses at midnight Monday and perform a mass wedding at 3 a.m.
"Monday at midnight, after 21 years together we're finally getting married," the couple said.
Miami-Dade County's clerk of courts site already shows marriage pre-applications for both opposite sex and same-sex marriages.
A hearing is scheduled Monday morning in Miami-Dade County and marriage licenses could be issued soon after. At the very least, the clerk will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
The very first family to successfully overturn the ban was a couple in Monroe County. They filed a motion Friday to essentially start marriages there first, so they can also be the first to officially marry in Florida.
"After fighting for this whole marriage equality thing we're relieved. Now it's just nerves for the wedding," said William Lee Jones.
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