Judge hears arguments in Florida gay marriage lawsuit

Supporters, opponents await judge's ruling

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage in Florida are awaiting the ruling of a judge that could overturn the state's six-year gay marriage ban.

From the streets of Miami to social media feeds in Palm Beach County and beyond, all attention was on one south Florida courtroom.

Judge Sarah Zabel heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

Six gay couples - married in other states - filed suit, claiming Florida's laws that keep them from marrying here violate their constitutional rights.

"Florida's marriage ban is intended to impose inequality on one class of citizens," said Sylvia Walbolt, the attorney for the Plaintiffs.

Opponents say Florida's 2008 voter-approved ban on gay marriage should stand.

"The decision of the voters must be protected and must be respected," said Anthony Verdugo of the Christian Family Coalition. "There is no right to marriage of someone of the same sex," he said.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office says it will defend current law.

"If she had the opportunity to speak to the faces of this community, it might change that perspective," said Ryanmarie Rice, Chief of Staff at the Compass Community Center in Lake Worth. "If it's not going to happen today. It's bound to happen eventually," said Rice of the upcoming ruling.

The Plaintiff couples say the law needs to evolve - like public opinion has - over the last six years. "It's been an emotional ride for us all of our lives," said Jorge Diaz, a Plaintiff in the lawsuit. "That's part of why we are doing what we are doing."

Judge Zabel said she is now considering both sides and will make a ruling in the next few days or next few weeks. The decision, whichever way it goes, will face certain appeal by the other side.

 


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