Scores of gay and lesbian couples married in Florida as the ban against same sex marriages ended. One large-scale ceremony occurred in Orlando where mayor Buddy Dyer led a mass wedding of 44 couples in front of City Hall. Additional large-scale weddings were planned Tampa, Key West and Broward County. Other couples planned to take their time. The first weddings took place in Dade County (Miami) where celebrity Anita Bryant successfully campaigned in the 1970s to overturn a Dade County ordinance banning discrimination against gays. Those protections were later reinstated by the County Commission.
Florida is the 36th state to permit same sex marriage resulting in 70% of Americans now living in states where gay marriage is legal. Federal Judge Robert Hinkle ruled August 21, 2014, that the ban on same sex marriage found in Florida’s Constitution violated the guarantee of equal treatment and due process included in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He said his ruling would go into effect 90 days after the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in. The High Court did so on October 6, 2014, when it refused to hear any same sex marriage cases, making January 6, 2015, the day gays could wed in Florida.
Clerk of Courts in several Florida counties will no longer perform courthouse marriages. Clerk Gary Cooney of Lake County said “there is a prohibition in the (Florida) constitution for recognizing and being part of same-sex marriage” and until the constitution is changed, Lake county will not offer the service. This did not deter gay marriage in the County: The first gay couple to obtain a same sex marriage license was married by a notary.
Most churches and synagogues will not perform same sex marriages. However, there seems to be no scarcity of civil servants willing to officiate at gay unions. Several courthouses in central Florida began handing out marriage licenses and performing marriages at 12:01 Jan 6. As each smiling, newly-wed couple left, they were greeting with applause by friends and well-wishers.