Same-sex marriage issues before Supreme Court watched closely by many in Florida

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

The Supreme Court must decide if a California law banning same sex marriage is constitutional, and that decision could have a big impact on many lives in Florida.

There is a chance the court could avoid making a decision that would affect the entire country. But if the justices decide instead to go with a more sweeping ruling, then the Orange County Courthouse would immediately have to allow same sex couples to apply for a marriage license.

Michael Farmer with Equality Florida, and his partner of two years, Boyd Lindlsey, didn't want to miss a minute of Supreme Court arguments Tuesday.

"I was watching the Wall Street Journal's live tweets all day," said Farmer.

Especially after justices suggested they could find a way to rule on California's ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8, without issuing a decision that would affect the entire country.

"There are 1,100 rights and benefits that come with marriage equality that gay and lesbian couples absolutely need," said Farmer.

If the court decides to make a nationwide ruling, then it could impact Florida and gay and lesbian couples could apply for a license along other couples.

"We don't even have that option. It's not even a discussion that we can have," said Lindsley.

Currently, the Florida Constitution defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, but a nationwide ruling could affect Florida right away.

The Florida Family Policy Council in Orlando hopes to protect traditional marriage.

"You can't build civilization without having a structure to regulate human sexuality, to rear children and create social order, and marriage and family does all of those things," said John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council.

Regardless of the extent of the ruling, Farmer believes the momentum behind it will continue.

"It will embolden marriage equality advocates all over the country to redouble their efforts," said Farmer.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court will consider the legality of 1996's Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to legally-married same sex couples.

A ruling on both cases is not expected until June.

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