Wedding bells are not ringing yet for same-sex couples in Monroe County.
Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones had hoped to apply for a marriage license on Tuesday after last week Monroe Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled in their favor seeking the right to marry. But State Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately appealed Garcia’s decision, automatically putting the process on hold.
A motion by the plaintiffs on Monday to lift the hold was unsuccessful. And on Wednesday, an appeals court officially said "no" to the union of Huntsman and Jones:
Two Key West bartenders, who last week won permission from a Monroe circuit judge to marry despite Florida's constitutional gay-marriage ban, at noon Wednesday asked an appeals court to let them wed immediately. Four hours later, the court said “denied.”
A day before that decision, about 25 people gathered on the steps of the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West to show support for gay marriage in Florida.
“Even with a few hours’ sleep after working last night, we’re here and we’re ready to go,” says Huntsman, who works as a bartender on Duval Street. “And we’ll keep doing this as long as it takes.”
Kimberley Debus started her job as an intern minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Key West more than a week early so she could be ready to marry gay couples on Tuesday.
“We know that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice,” Debus says. “Sometimes that arc takes a long time.”
Debus recently moved to Key West from New York, where gay marriage is legal. She says she was happy to attend the rally as a member of the clergy.
“It’s important to stand on the side of love, to stand as a person of faith, to say not every religious person is against marriage equality,” she says.
Kent Ducote and Guillermo Orozco have been together for 31 years. Last year, they got married in Washington state.
But the couple would like to see their marriage made official in Florida, where they’ve lived for more than 20 years.
“Once you’re recognized and it’s a legal recognition, there is a change,” Orozco says. “It’s a matter of acceptance and I think we all want to be accepted.”