Rulings on gay marriage don't affect Fla. ban

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - While gay rights advocates are celebrating two Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriages, gay couples still won't be able to marry in Florida.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples. It also left a lower court ruling overturning California's gay marriage ban intact.

But the rulings didn't address gay marriage bans in other states. Florida voters in 2008 approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. It will take approval from 60 percent of voters to overturn it if the issue is put on the ballot again.

Still, gay rights advocates are hoping the Supreme Court's decisions provide momentum to eventually overturn Florida's ban.

Gov. Rick Scott says he's going to follow the law.

"The voters in 2008 decide that we are going to be a traditional marriage state, and that is what the voters decided," he said. "It's my job as governor to uphold the law of the land."

"And if that were to push to change, would you take the position on it?" a reporter asked him.

"Well, look, I've been married since I'm -- since I was 19. I believe in traditional marriage," Scott said.

Gay activists say the state is changing. Voters this past year elected two openly gay members of the state Legislature. Joe Saunders even brought his partner for the swearing in.

Equality Florida says the ruling should be seen by gay activists as a call to action.

"In the past, you know, maybe people didn't pay much attention to it," Equality Florida Chair Jim VanRiper said. "But we are bringing to the forefront of attention, and you know, I think we are going to see a significant drive in this day to repeal the constitutional amendment."

Gay activists have basically three options for trying to change the constitution: They can go to the Legislature and get it to put it on the ballot. They can have an initiative petition. Or they can wait for four years for the constitution revisions commission.

Voters will still have a final say on any constitutional changes.

Asked if the he would defend a lawsuit if one were filed, Scott didn't hesitate in saying yes.

If gay rights groups try to amend the constitution, it will likely be during the 2016 election. A petition drive would require 683,149 signatures and they would have to be turned in no later than February 2014.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.