Judge listens to arguments in Fla. same-sex marriage ban debate

6 same-sex couples from South Fla. challenging 2008 constitutional amendment

MIAMI - Attorneys for gay couples and the state of Florida squared off at a hearing on a lawsuit challenging Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel began hearing arguments Wednesday afternoon in the high-profile case.

A lawsuit challenging the ban was filed by six same-sex couples from South Florida in January.

Like others filed across the country, the lawsuit contends the gay marriage ban added by voters to the state constitution is discriminatory and violates equal protection guarantees.

Attorney General Pam Bondi's office counters that a single judge should not overturn the amendment that passed in 2008. Bondi's attorneys also argue the U.S. Supreme Court has left marriage definitions to the states.

"Although people want respect for their vote, more and more Floridians are respecting our rights to love, to be citizens (and) to be treated equally," plaintiff Don Price Johnson said outside the courthouse after the hearing.

Attorneys for both sides were given the chance to argue their positions in court.

Adam Tanenbaum, an attorney for Bondi's office, said it isn't for the court to decide whether the voters' decision "was a good policy or a bad policy."

Jeffrey Michael Cohen, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said the state is trying to persuade the court "to accept the tyranny of the majority."

Zabel is being asked strike down the same-sex marriage ban before a trial. She did not indicate when she'll make a ruling, but both sides have said they plan to appeal.

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