Judge Won't Allow Gay Marriage to Start in the Keys Tomorrow

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No wedding bells will ring for gay couples in the Florida Keys tomorrow.

Monroe County judge Luis Garcia ruled last week that Florida's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately filed to appeal the decision. Today Garcia refused to lift Bondi's stay, and the ban will remain in effect while the case works it way through the appeals process.

Aaron Huntsman, 44, and William Lee Jones, 43, a Key West couple for 11 years, had sued the Monroe County Clerk of Court when they were refused a marriage license. Garcia found in their favor and originally ruled that marriage licenses could be issued to gay couples in the county tomorrow.

Bondi's appeal, however, placed a stay on the decision. Bondi wants the issue to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We're a little disappointed, but it was expected," Jones told Reuters. "I think it's all part of a strategy to get this going faster into the upper courts. We've been waiting 11 years to do this; a bit longer is not going to kill us."

A judge in a similar case involving six gay couples in Miami-Dade is also expected to release a ruling soon.

Garcia's decision isn't unusual. He cited that court decisions in favor of gay marriage in other states were put on hold while the cases worked their way through the appeal process.

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