Attorneys for Key West couple to appeal stay in same-sex marriage ruling

Fla. Keys judge upholds stay during appeal of his earlier decision

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

KEY WEST, Fla. - Attorneys for a Key West couple fighting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage will ask an appellate court to do what a Monroe County judge did not: lift the stay on same-sex marriage while Florida's attorney general appeals the ruling that overturned it.

Bernadette Restivo and Elena Vigil-Farinas said Tuesday they are preparing a motion to appeal the legal stay issued Monday afternoon to the Third District Court of Appeal.

"You have to show there is irreparable harm if you don't lift it and you have to show prejudice, and (Florida's deputy attorney general) didn't argue any one of those," Vigil-Farinas told Local 10 News.

Monroe County Judge Luis M. Garcia denied an emergency motion filed on behalf of Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones. Garcia is the same judge who ruled last week that a 2008 amendment to the state constitution defining marriage between a man and a woman is discriminatory and violates gay people's right to equal treatment under the law.

READ: Emergency Motion To Lift Stay

"We were really shocked at the benign response that the State of Florida had in the motion to lift the stay," Restivo said. "It really had no substance to it other than a list of other courts that have had a stay across the country."

Had the stay been lifted, Huntsman and Jones were prepared to be at the Monroe County courthouse in Key West at its opening Tuesday -- the first day same-sex marriage licenses would have been issued in the county, according to the ruling.

In the hours after the precedent-setting ruling July 7, Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a notice of appeal the ruling. As of Tuesday morning, the office had not yet filed the actual appeal.

READ: Opposition To Lifting Stay

Also Tuesday, the couple's attorneys revealed they are negotiating with Bondi to agree to bypass the Third District Court of Appeal and deliver the case to Florida's Supreme Court.  

Unlike the current Monroe Court decision that applies only in that county, a decision in Florida's highest court would apply statewide.

"We're wasting taxpayers' money," Jones said. "Get this straight to the Supreme Court where it needs to be so that the ruling is final."

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