Florida Keys businesses aren't quite ready to start marketing the islands as a destination for same-sex marriages, but they are closely watching for the results of a lawsuit filed by two Key West bartenders denied a married license in April.
Thursday, Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia ruled that Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who had sued County Clerk Amy Heavilin after her office denied them the license, have the right to get married under the U.S. Constitution despite Florida's ban on same-sex marriage.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately filed an appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal.
Guy Ross, executive director of the Key West Business Guild, says finality in the case is a marathon, not a sprint.
"I don't think anyone is rushing around here right now ordering baby's breath at Keys florists," Ross said. "This has got to go through the appellate process -- my guess is that we're looking at at least a year."
But he's glad Monroe County is leading the state's conversation when it comes to same-sex marriage.
"We've anticipated that marriage equality will happen in Florida and that Key West would lead the way," Ross said.
Several guesthouses in Key West have said they don't have marketing strategies in place yet but will continue to welcome all of their guests with open arms, no matter the purpose of their visit.
A Key West photographer, though, wasted no time revamping his website to welcome same-sex couples wanting a destination wedding even though they're still banned. His next stop is to the various guesthouses to drop off flyers offering his services.
Daniel Kolbe, owner of Southernmost Photography and Wedding Planning, says he already does about five to 10 commitment ceremonies a year. In his opinion, a wedding is a wedding.
"They're the same," he said. "From the actual ceremony to the guests, you wouldn't know the difference."
Kolbe, married with children, believes the forward momentum for equality has been overdue. "Love is love. Why should people's stupidity stop it? They should have a right to be miserable like the rest of us married people."
The Monroe County Tourist Development Council is "monitoring the situation very closely," according to Director Harold Wheeler.
"But we don't know how long the appeal process will take," Wheeler said. "It's a bit premature to create a same-sex marriage marketing plan until there is a final outcome. With that said, the TDC maintains a robust LGBT marketing initiative that has been in place for many years involving advertising, public relations and sales disciplines. TDC is also able to respond quickly to changing situations and circumstances, so creating such a plan at the appropriate time can be easily accomplished in an expeditious manner."
Same-sex couples can get legally married in several states now, but that wasn't the case until fairly recently, as states keep losing their federal lawsuits defending bans.
Provincetown, Mass., on Cape Cod, has perhaps the longest-standing business plan for gay weddings. Several websites are geared toward same-sex couples looking to get married there (Massachusetts allows same-sex marriages) because like the Keys, it's a gay-friendly environment.
"Just get married!" reads a banner at the top of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce website, next to a photo of two male newlyweds. It lists caterers, churches, spas and all of its other member businesses that surround weddings.
The Provincetown Tourism Office says: "Since gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004, Provincetown has become the place to get married, with over 4,000 marriage licenses issued to date. Same-sex couples chose Provincetown for its gay symbolism and the breathtaking backdrop of the town's beaches."
Florida -- and especially the Keys -- will likely want a piece of that pie once the issue makes it through the courts.