From the Orlando Sentinel:
Three judges in separate cases across Florida could rule any day on whether to overturn Florida's ban on gay marriage.Equality Florida has planned celebrations throughout the state when/if a favorable ruling is handed down.
Each case deals with different set of couples who want to get married in different counties, but the basic question is the same: Does Florida's ban on same-sex marriage violate an individual's right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection?
Florida gay-rights activists and their attorneys expect to win in all three courts.
"Literally any second now we could get rulings from the judges in one or more of those cases," said Mary Meeks, an Orlando attorney helping represent six gay couples in the Miami-Dade County case.
Beyond those three lawsuits, two other legal challenges also are pending, but those rulings are not imminent.
But John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Policy Council, the Orlando group that championed the amendment, predicted Tuesday that Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel in Miami-Dade would soon overturn it.
He was in her courtroom July 2 listening to lawyers argue the case. That included his lawyer, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, who urged Zabel to uphold the ban.
"It was rather stunning," Stemberger said of that hearing. "I don't expect her to uphold the law."
Staver said a decision in favor of same-sex marriage would "be a culture-changing event that would not be good for marriage, certainly not for the state of Florida."
If it comes from one of the two South Florida state circuit judges — Zabel or Luis Garcia in Monroe County — it would be historic but would not have an immediate statewide impact, said Bernadette Restivo, an attorney in the Monroe County case.
That's because in each of those cases, gay couples are challenging the local clerks of court for their refusal to issue a marriage license. In Miami-Dade, that's Clerk Harvey Ruvin. In Monroe County, it's Amy Heavilin.
Rulings in those cases are not expected to prompt clerks in other counties to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Maryanne Morse, clerk in Seminole County, said her office would not.
"We will follow the law," she said. "It's not applicable statewide."
Eddie Fernandez, clerk in Orange County, said he'd wait to read the ruling but predicted his office would not be directly affected or change course.
A more sweeping ruling could come from U.S. Circuit Court Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee. He's presiding over the most complicated case: a consolidated pair of lawsuits asking him allow a same-sex couple to get married and force Florida to recognize the marital rights of 10 same-sex couples and a widow who got married in other states or Canada.
Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who represents eight of those couples, was optimistic Tuesday.
"We expect that could come any day now," he said.
Here is Tallahassee Mayor John Marks for the Freedom to Marry: