Tampa, Florida -- Some say this could be history in the making. That's after a Florida judge's decision to legalize same-sex marriage in Key West has the LGBT community in the Tampa Bay area and across the state celebrating.
Hundreds of same sex couples had hoped they could go to the Keys to file for a marriage license as early as Tuesday, but that's not possible now that Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed Thursday's ruling. Some say it's not a setback though but, instead, a huge step in the fight to legalize gay marriage.
Key West residents Lee Jones and Aaron Huntsman have been together for 11 years. They're the ones who protested the ban on gay marriage. The judge's historical decision was in response to their lawsuit. The couple was banned from legally marrying in the Sunshine State since Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage back in 2008. Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia ruled the ban violates their rights.
Dr. Scott Barry is excited about the ruling.
"A lot has changed in the last six years. We're no longer at the point where we were in 2008 when this was voted in and I don't think it's something that the people of Florida would want now."
Dr. Barry and his partner Vincent have been together for 31 years and are waiting to tie the knot in Florida.
"We met and we knew we were meant to be together, but this would allow us to be at the level of every other citizen in the United States -- we'll have the same rights."
Ed Lally is with Equality Florida, the largest civil rights group in the state representing more than 195,000 people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
He says, "In the end we will win. In the end, love wins."
He says even though Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed the judge's ruling and essentially put the brakes on marriage licenses being issued in the Keys for now, he says this could all play out in their favor and on a much bigger scale.
"Actually it'll go to a higher court now and in that ruling, if they rule in our favor and we think they will, then it would be marriage for same sex couples all across Florida," he explains.
Lally and Dr. Barry both want to marry their partners and say they're deeply concerned that not having a marriage that's recognize by the state means they don't have the same rights other couples have when it comes to health insurance and retirement.
Two other challenges to Florida's same-sex marriage ban are pending in court. Attorneys for couples in Miami-Dade County are arguing in front of a state circuit judge that denying marriage to gay parents stigmatizes their adopted children. Another case, in federal court in Tallahassee, would force Florida to allow gay marriage as well as recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
In 19 states plus Washington, D.C., same sex couples can legally marry.