A Florida state judge on Monday ordered
Miami-Dade County to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to
gay and lesbian couples, a day before a federal judge's order
striking down the state's ban on gay marriage was set to take effect.
Judge Sarah Zabel of the Circuit Court
of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit invalidated Florida's ban on July 25
but put her ruling on hold pending an appeal.
After a brief hearing on Monday, Zabel
agreed to lift the stay, making Miami-Dade the first county in the
state to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
Zabel also agreed to marry plaintiff
couples who wish to marry today.
The first couple to receive a marriage
license were Karla Arguello and Cathy Pareto (pictured), according to
Equality Florida, the state's largest LGBT rights advocate. Arguello
and Pareto are among the six couples who challenged the ban.
Plaintiffs were represented by the law
firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt and the National Center for Lesbian
“This is a pivotal moment not just
for Miami but for the entire country,” NCLR Legal Director Shannon
Minter said in a statement. “Florida is a bellwether state, and I
can think of no more encouraging sign as the US Supreme Court
prepares to decide whether to resolve this issue for the entire
country at its next conference on January 9, and as the Fifth Circuit
Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in the Texas, Mississippi, and
Louisiana marriage cases the same day. This is an incredibly
important week for marriage equality, and we are so thrilled that
Miami couples are leading the charge.”
UPDATE: Arguello and Pareto have become
the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Florida.