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Jacksonville Same-Sex Couples Wed On First Day After Ban Ends

Hundreds of same-sex couples married across Florida today, the first day their unions are recognized in the state. WJCT was at the Duval County Courthouse to report on the historic day.

Timm Purcell and Garlyn Purcell became the first same-sex couple to get married in Duval County in front of the courthouse.

Florida’s statewide ban on gay marriage ended just after midnight, and same-sex couples lined up to apply for marriage licenses before seven in the morning.

Florida is the 36th state where gay marriage has been legalized. Most were forced to recognize same-sex marriage through court rulings.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in August. But Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is still pursuing appeals in separate state and federal cases.

John Stemberger, Florida Family Policy Council President, says this is a case of legislating from the bench.

He said, "Five million voters are being overthrown by a handful of lawyers in black robes, and I think this is not the way democracy should work."

Stemberger believes the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the ruling — if justices decide to hear the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide Friday whether to rule on gay marriage during their current term.

You can follow Peter Haden on Twitter @HadenMedia.

Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.