Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, two bartenders at the 801 Bourbon Bar in Key West, have just won the right to get married after suing the Monroe County Clerk for a marriage license in April. The two met at a Pride celebration 11 years ago where Huntsman was the reigning Mr. Pride. This Thursday, the couple were finally able to take a step towards officially getting married when Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared Florida's 2008 ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
"I actually dropped my phone when I got the call," said Jones at a celebration of over 100 people the night of the decision, according to the Associated Press. "I was so excited, so proud and happy, so glad that we made it this far so far."
"We did this to change the laws for everybody in the state of Florida — not just for us, but for all the people that have been hurting over this undue law that is not right," Huntsman said. "We thought that just two average guys could be able to maybe make a difference, especially here in Monroe County."
Immediately following the court's decision, Republican attorney general Pam Bondi filed an appeal which created an automatic stay, preventing the ruling from going into effect and blocking any same-sex marriages from actually happening. However, the stay may be lifted before Tuesday, so couples traveling to the Keys could possibly get a marriage license from the county clerk's office.
The 801 Bourbon Bar and Key West are sure to get an influx of visitors over the next few weeks as couples travel to Monroe County to get married, should Bondi not get her way. Key West has long been one of Florida's most gay-friendly cities, and the 801 Bourbon Bar, where both Huntsman and Jones tend bar, is a fixture of the island, like the Island House resort. Located at 801 Duval Street, 801 Bourbon is actually three separate bars connected together. The main bar, where you're sure to find an eclectic clientele, offers a relaxing and friendly atmosphere for tourists and locals alike. Take a trip up the stairs to visit the Upstairs Cabaret where Sushi and her 801 Girls put on new spectacular shows every night at 9 and 11. At the back of the 801 Bourbon Bar resides the #1 Saloon, Key West's only Leather Bar and home of the Key West Wreckers. For over 27 years, the bar has held Drag Bingo every Sunday as a charity event for local organizations.
Despite the continued resistance from Florida's large conservative population, LGBT advocates have been planning parties and celebrations across the state since the tremendous victory.
“I can’t believe it finally happened,” Jones said. “Love is love.”