Starting Jan. 6, same-sex couples can legally marry in Florida.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who presides over Washington County in the Panhandle, ruled Thursday that Florida’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and ordered that all counties in the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning today.
Hinkle’s ruling requires that all marriage-license applicants follow the ruling, even if they “are not parties to this case,” he wrote in an order.
Applicants wishing to obtain a marriage license can show up at 8 a.m. at the Alachua County Clerk of Courts, located at 201 E. University Ave., said Alachua County Clerk Buddy Irby. The process takes about 10 minutes if the applicant has the proper identification.
During a conference call with county clerks, Irby said the attorney for the Florida Association of County Clerks and Comptrollers Association recommended that clerks go forward with the ruling.
“As far as he could tell, we now have the approval to issue the licenses,” Irby said.
He added the first few couples plan on arriving at the courthouse when it opens and expects a few more to trickle in later in the day.
Terry Fleming, a Pride Community Center of North Central Florida Board of Directors member, said because many gay couples left Florida to wed prior to the reform, he doesn’t expect a large turnout in Alachua County. Still, the co-president expects a steady flow of same-sex couples tying the knot today.
“Justice won,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The center will hold a community celebration today from 6 to 8 p.m. at its headquarters, 3131 NW 13th St. Suite 62.