Gay couples part of suit celebrate judge's ruling

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It was a celebration at Jim Brenner's house Thursday. Brenner and his partner, Charles Jones, were the original plaintiffs in a federal court case against Florida's ban on gay marriage.

A U.S. Judge struck down the ban Thursday and put a hold on issuing same-sex marriage licenses in the Sunshine State until the U.S. Court of Appeals rules on the decision. The timetable for that is unknown.

Couple Stephen Schlairet and Ozzie Russ later joined Brenner and Jones' suit. Both couples have been together for more than 20 years.

"We're not asking for anything that other people don't already have," Brenner said. "We're not asking for anything special. We're not asking for anything out of the ordinary. We just want the same things that everyone else has."

A federal judge sided with the four men and overturned the state's ban on gay marriage, the fifth judge in Florida to do so. Every other ruling only had local impact. The federal ruling means the ban has been declared unconstitutional statewide.

"I think there's the question and people are saying that the courts are deciding, 'Do I like gay people or do I not like gay people?'" Schlairet said. "That's not the issue. The issue is about whether or not the Constitution -- what it means when it says all people are created equal."

In 2008, voters put into the Constitution that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman. That's why Attorney General Pam Bondi said she has appealed the four other rulings in the state. Now she says states need an ultimate decision.

"Instead of having all these different rulings from different judges, not only from Florida but throughout every state in the country, let's let the U.S. Supreme Court decide it, sooner than later, we hope, and have finality on all sides," Bondi said.

The hope from the victors in the latest ruling is that the U.S. Supreme Court acts by the end of their upcoming session in June.

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