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After Monroe County Ruling, Local Same-Sex Couple Request Marriage License

Rhema Thompson

In neatly pressed button-ups and khakis, Aaron Talbot and Joel Adams prepared to enter the Duval County Courthouse Friday morning.They were on their way to the Clerk of Court’s Office with a request they’ve been waiting years to make.

"We’re going to walk in and say we’d like to apply for a marriage license," Talbot said as he stood on the steps of the building.

A nervous smile flashed across the face of his long-time partner.

The two have been together for about 11 years, now. In some states, they’re technically married. They tied the knot in New York last October.
But in the eyes of their home state they are not newlyweds.  That's due to a 2008 referendum banning same-sex marriage in the state. Under the amendment, marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman.

But this morning is different. It’s the day after a Monroe County Circuit judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

It is important to note that the ruling only applies to Monroe County, and it, along with a similar case in Miami-Dade, will have to be brought to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals before same-sex marriage can be recognized across the state.

It’s also being challenged by Attorney General Pam Bondi, which could result in a stay on the ruling.

But Adams says Thursday’s decision was motivation enough for the two to take a stand at the local level.

"It’s time to stop waiting for due process and equal protection and it’s time for local and state leaders to stop saying no to love and marriage equality. It’s very simple. It’s time to start saying 'yes'," he said.

But later, standing inside the Clerk of Court’s Office, it became clear that a "yes" would not happen for the two that day.

After requesting a marriage license application from a woman sitting behind the Clerk's desk, the two were informed that it is not allowed.

"It's against the rules to even issue one," she told them.

After noticing that a reporter is with the couple, she called over her manager. Clerk of Courts spokesman Charlie Broward soon also joined the group.

He tells Talbot and Adams granting them a marriage license at this point would still go against state laws. But he offers to take down their information to pass along to Circuit Court Clerk Ronnie Fussell.
Back on the steps of the courthouse, Aaron says the outcome was unfortunate but expected.

"We’re not sure of our next steps from here. Hopefully, other people can get involved and ask for this and maybe someone at the local level...will have some courage of their personal convictions which we were obviously made aware of today that we can have equality in Jacksonville," Tabot said.

For now, the two like much of the rest of the state will have their eyes on Monroe County, where same-sex marriage licenses could be issued as early as Tuesday.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.