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Monroe County Court Hears Arguments In Gay Marriage Case

Nancy Klingener

In 2008, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. In recent months, gay couples wishing to marry have challenged that provision in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Today on Plantation Key, a Monroe Circuit judge heard arguments in a case brought by two Key West men. Aaron Huntsman and William Jones have been together for 11 years and had a commitment ceremony 10 years ago. But Huntsman said they want to make it official.

“We are two bartenders. We are two for real guys. We have two dogs. We share the same banking accounts. We’re looking to buy a home,” Huntsman said. “We’re just two normal guys. And I thought, why not us? Why can’t we do it?”

In April, they went to the Monroe County Clerk’s office in Key West and applied for a marriage license. They were denied. So they sued. Their lawsuit claims that Florida’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Attorneys for the county clerk and the state attorney general’s office offered brief defenses. The longest argument in favor of the status quo came from Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel in Orlando. He’s an attorney who represents private groups that oppose gay marriage throughout Florida.

“Place after place, it’s had a negative impact on marriage. It’s had a negative impact on children. It’s had a negative impact on religious freedom, people that have a moral opposition to same sex marriage,” Staver said.

Judge Luis Garcia is expected to make his ruling within the next few weeks. Gay marriage advocates are also awaiting a ruling in a similar case in Miami-Dade.