Two Key West men whose lawsuit helped pave the way for marriage equality in Florida said “I Do” during the Florida Keys’ first legal same-sex wedding early Tuesday, 6 January 2015.
Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones signed and received their marriage license — the first ever issued to a same-sex couple in the Keys — just after midnight at Key West’s Monroe County Courthouse.
Wearing matching black tuxes and electric blue vests, facing each other and holding hands on the courthouse steps, they were wed in a simple yet moving ceremony before about 500 enthusiastic spectators.
After Huntsman and Lee spoke their vows and exchanged handmade silver rings, Rev. Steve Torrence pronounced them legally married. The crowd erupted in cheers and applause as the new spouses embraced and kissed.
“It’s official — we’re married!” said Huntsman after the ceremony. “We’ve been wanting this and hoping for this for such a long time. We felt in our hearts that we had been married since our first year together, and now it’s real — in Florida!”
In July 2014, in response to the couple’s lawsuit protesting Florida’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriage, Florida Keys Judge Luis Garcia issued a landmark ruling stating the ban was discriminatory and unconstitutional.
But a state appeal derailed wedding plans until U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that Florida’s county court clerks could issue licenses to same-sex couples beginning at midnight Monday.
“I’m elated, overjoyed, that I finally am legally recognized with the man that I’ve loved for 12 years now,” said an emotional Jones.
The county clerk’s office in Key West opened at 11:30 p.m. Monday night and, just after midnight, issued nine other marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
While other weddings took place in the wee hours Tuesday morning, Huntsman and Jones’ ceremony was the first in the county and in the Florida Keys.
“Key West has been at the forefront in LGBT issues since the 80s and this is just historical,” said Huntsman. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community.”
For further information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit www.fla-keys.co.uk