Tag Archives: miami-dade county

Florida sees an abundance of same-sex marriages after legalization

Tuesday marked the first day same-sex couples could get married in Florida, and the state saw hundreds of people come out to receive their marriage licenses.

Florida became the 36th state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage at the stroke of midnight between Monday and Tuesday. Some courthouses wasted no time and began to marry couples immediately.

One judge in Miami saw no reason to wait till midnight and began marrying people on Monday, when it was still technically illegal to do so. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel holds the honor of performing the state’s first same-sex union on Monday afternoon, according to the AP. Still, other counties held off until Tuesday.

Howard Forman, the clerk of courts in Broward County, wed 20 gay and lesbian couples at the same time in a five-minute ceremony at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to the New York Times. As Forman announced the new marriages, cheers erupted from the surrounding crowd of family and friends who were present.

“We had been together so long, we hadn’t put a lot of importance in it,” said Cory Morton, a same-sex marriage license recipient. “It seemed so far-fetched…I found myself getting a little nervous on the way here,” Morton said, according to the Miami Herald

However, not all Florida counties were celebrating with supporters of same-sex marriages.

Duval County Court Clerk Ronnie Fussell shutdown the courthouse chapel to all people who wished to receive marriages license, whether they be same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. A few other counties in northern Florida, where more conservative citizens live, also closed down their courthouses so as not to allow any marriages to take place.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is pursuing an appeal of the decision to allow same-sex marriages to be legal in the state. In 2008, Florida had put a ban on same-sex marriages, and Bondi wants to uphold this previous ruling.

The political framework was ignored by many though as they gladly received their licenses.

“I’m elated,” said William Jones, describing his marriage to Aaron Huntsman. “Overjoyed that I am finally legally recognized with the man I have loved for 12 years now.”

Ride-Share Company Lyft Targeted By Undercover Officers Impounding Drivers’ Vehicles

Miami, FL- Miami-Dade County officials claim that the ride-sharing service Lyft violates county code and have amplified their efforts to put a stop to Lyft by using police in a sting operation to tow the vehicles of Lyft drivers.

Lyft is a ride-sharing service that uses a smartphone app to connect people in need of transportation with drivers who can accommodate them. Those who are in need of a ride use the app to find and request a ride from a nearby driver, and to track the driver’s route and time of arrival. Lyft vehicles are easily noticed due to a catchy pink furry mustache that adorns the front of them.

The cost of using Lyft varies state by state; some drivers accept donations of suggested amounts and other drivers charge a set mileage rate and pickup fee, and sometimes various additional charges such as cancellation fees. Lyft began operating in Miami a couple of weeks ago.

Juan Arango is a Lyft driver who unwittingly picked up an undercover code enforcement officer who requested a ride to the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne. Upon dropping off the officer, Arango’s car was impounded immediately. A few minutes later, another driver, Stanley Scott, received the same “gotcha” experience with another undercover officer requesting a ride to a hotel. Both drivers were unaware that they were operating illegally, according to the Miami Herald. “I trusted that if the service was working in Miami, it was allowed,” said Arango.

In Miami-Dade County, Lyft drivers face fines of up to $2,000 for failure to obtain a chauffeur registration and for driving a “for-hire” vehicle for transportation services without getting a “for-hire” license. The code states that “for-hire vehicles include taxicabs, limousines, passenger motor carriers, jitneys, non emergency vehicles, special transportation services vehicles and private school buses” and are required to attain chauffeur registration.

Attorney Hilton Napoleon, who is representing Arango, Scott, and another driver who picked up an undercover officer, said that Lyft disagrees with the county categorizing the company in the same fashion as traditional taxi cabs. “It’s a situation where technology has kind of outpaced legislation, and we don’t believe the legislation that’s in place covers this particular issue,” said Napoleon.

According to the Miami Herald, Jorge Luis Lopez, a lobbyist for Lyft, obtained emails that showed taxicab and limousine group officials had warned county regulators that Lyft was launching in Miami.  An administrator in the regulatory department reportedly wrote “Let’s crash the party” in response to a forwarded invitation to Lyft’s launch celebration.

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