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Judge Approves Early Start To Florida's Gay Weddings

Same-sex couples and their attorneys who had previously challenged the wedding ban celebrate on court steps after Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay, allowing same-sex couples to marry January 5, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade County became the first place in Florida to allow same-sex couples to marry joining 36 other states and Washington D.C. (Emily Michot/The Miami Herald/Getty Images)
Same-sex couples and their attorneys who had previously challenged the wedding ban celebrate on court steps after Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay, allowing same-sex couples to marry January 5, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade County became the first place in Florida to allow same-sex couples to marry joining 36 other states and Washington D.C. (Emily Michot/The Miami Herald/Getty Images)

A Florida judge said Miami-Dade County can immediately start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, meaning Florida’s first gay weddings may begin shortly.

Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel on Monday lifted a stay on her July ruling that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban violates equal protections under the U.S. Constitution.

Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin says he will begin issuing licenses immediately, so the first gay and lesbian weddings could take place Monday afternoon. A gay rights group already lined up two couples to be the first.

Same-sex marriages were expected to begin statewide after midnight Tuesday, when a separate ruling by a federal judge takes effect, covering all 67 Florida counties. Florida becomes the 36th U.S. state where same-sex marriages are legal statewide.

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