On Monday evening, Karla Arguello and Catherina Pareto became the first same-sex couple legally wed in Florida, when Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel presided over their marriage in her Miami chambers. "It's been a long time coming," Pareto said after the ceremony. "Finally, Florida recognizes us as a couple. It's just — I don't know, sweet justice."
The Miami same-sex nuptials were just the beginning, though: At midnight on Tuesday, per a ruling from U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, gay marriage became legal throughout the Sunshine State, and several county courthouses were open to join waiting same-sex couples in legal matrimony. With Florida in the gay-marriage column, 36 states with 70 percent of the U.S. population allow same-sex marriage.
Florida Secretary of State Pam Bondi (R), who unsuccessfully sought a stay of Hinkle's ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court, said through a spokeswoman that "the judge has ruled, and we wish these couples the best." Not all counties agreed: In Jacksonville, the Duval county clerk is refusing to allow any marriages in the courthouse, gay or straight, and at least two other counties are doing the same. All counties are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.