MIAMI - Attorneys for gay couples and the state of Florida squared off Wednesday at a hearing on a lawsuit challenging Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel heard the high-profile case. Like others filed across the country, the lawsuit contends the gay marriage ban added by voters to the state constitution is discriminatory and violates equal-protection guarantees.
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office counters that a single judge should not overturn the amendment, which was passed in 2008. Bondi's attorneys also argue the U.S. Supreme Court has left marriage definitions to the states.
Central Florida is playing a key role inside the courthouse as Orlando lawyer Mary Meeks is representing those hoping to overturn the ban.
"Twenty-two straight court decisions have upheld the argument that we are making," said Meeks. "Twenty-two straight court decisions have held that state laws banning same-sex marriage violate the federal Constitution."
Orlando lawyer John Stemberger helped pass Amendment 2 in 2008, which created the statewide ban.
"When you create same-sex marriage you also create a same-sex family and you have to ask what is in the best interest," said Stemberger.
The judge did not immediately issue a verdict on whether to overturn the 2008 ban.
Orlando lawyers from both sides felt victorious after the hearing.
“The bottom line is this: If the judge obeys the law and the highest law in the land, the constitution will prevail,” Stemberger said.
Meanwhile, Meeks is confident the judge will overturn the ban.
“The judge on her own quoted from the Supreme Court history, from the Supreme Court history and precedent, saying that even things that are subject to vote have to be constitutional,” Meeks said.
Zabel is being asked strike down the same-sex marriage ban before a trial. It's not clear when she might rule, but an appeal is certain.