Appeals court refuses to lift stay on same-sex marriage ruling

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MIAMI - A Florida appeals court will not overturn a judge's order that is blocking a Florida Keys gay couple from getting married.

The Miami-based Third District Court of Appeal on Wednesday refused to invalidate a Monroe County judge's decision preventing a wedding for Key West bartenders Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones and other gay couples.

Judge Luis M. Garcia last week ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that marriage licenses could be issued to gays in Monroe County beginning Tuesday.

Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately filed notice of appeal, triggering an automatic stay that prevents any gay marriages until a potentially months-long appeals process is resolved.

Bernadette Restivo and Elena Vigil-Farinas, who represent Huntsman and Jones, sought an emergency motion to lift the stay Monday, but Garcia rejected it.

In their most recent motion to vacate the stay, Restivo and Vigil-Farinas said their clients "and other same-sex couples are being deprived of important constitutional rights" while suffering "irreparable dignitary, legal and economic harms."

READ: Motion To Vacate Stay

"The lower court's ruling was based on a thoughtful and carefully reasoned application of the precedents that control this case and is likely to be affirmed on appeal," they wrote. "The relevant factors are 'overwhelmingly tilted' in favor of vacating the stay."

That argument apparently wasn't enough for the appellate court to lift the stay, which would pave the way for the state's first same-sex marriage.

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