Florida Becomes the 36 State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage
Monday, September 25, 2023
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"It's been a long time coming. We're just so excited and so happy," Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb said after she married Patti Daugherty, her partner of 22 years, at a courthouse in Kissimmee, just south of Orlando. In matching white pants and white embroidered shirts, the couple stood under a canopy of lace and ribbons as County Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez officiated and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., served as a witness. Supporters counted down to midnight, with a clock ticking away at the front of the room.


Florida — the Third-Most Populous State, with 19.9 Million People Becomes

the 36th State where Gay Marriage is Legal. Seventy Percent of Americans

now Live in States where Same-Sex Couples Can Legally Wed

In several of the Deep South states surrounding Florida, gay marriage bans remain in place. That puts Florida — a state much changed since the 1970s, when former beauty pageant queen and orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant started her national campaign against gay rights in the 1970s — in place to potentially serve as a mecca for gay couples who could travel there for weddings.


Tod and Jeff Delmay After Being Legally Married in Miami, Florida

But while the end of the ban was met with cheers or even shrugs from Florida's more liberal enclaves, political and cultural divisions remained in the battleground state, especially farther north, where more conservative Floridians live.  In Jacksonville, Duval County Court Clerk Ronnie Fussell shut down the courthouse chapel, saying no marriage ceremonies — gay or straight — would be allowed. At least two other northeast Florida counties did the same.


Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Johns, Monroe County, Florida

There were no such obstacles in Key West, at Florida's southern tip. Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones received the Keys' first marriage license issued to a same-sex couple early Tuesday. They exchanged nuptials in matching black tuxedos with blue vests, in front of several hundred people on the Monroe County Courthouse steps.  After their vows, Jones removed a large silver-toned bracelet that encircled his left wrist. He called it "my shackle of inequality."


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is still pursuing appeals, at both state and federal levels. She wants to uphold the ban voters approved in 2008.  Tellingly, though, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court refused Bondi's request to extend an order blocking same-sex marriages beyond Monday. That essentially gave the green light to weddings.


On Friday, U.S. Supreme Court justices will decide in private whether to rule on the merits of gay marriage during their current term.  Bondi shares her position with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who's considering a Republican run for president: that marriage should be defined by each state. But even Bush tried to find a middle ground Monday. In a statement, he urged people to "show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty."


Robin L. Bodiford, Esq and Sandy Picard, Married at the Broward County Courthouse

on Tuesday January 6, 2015 at 5:00 AM 


Broward Sheriff David Currie and his Partner, Former Marine Aaron Woodard,

were also Among the First Florida Same-Sex Couples to Marry in Broward County

"It's a really great feeling," said Currie, 50, who married Aaron Woodard, 33, a few hours past midnight in the Broward County clerk's office. "I think about how I did an amazing thing last night. I'm very excited, not only for me personally but for what it means for state of Florida, for people who have careers like mine where being gay is not that cool... it's not easily acceptable."


Currie, who has worked at the Broward Sheriff's Office for nearly 24 years, decided to wear his police uniform to the ceremony after his spouse, a former marine who currently works as a hairdresser, suggested it. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel immediately approved Carrie's request for permission to wear the uniform.  "I felt if he was going to have the milestone night of his nights and if he was proud enough of the agency to wear the uniform then I certainly felt that it would be a great thing and wanted to allow him to wear the uniform at a very important night in his life," Israel said. Currie said the department has been very supportive, with co-workers witnessing the ceremony and congratulating him. "The sheriff's office has always been a more forward-thinking department," he said, adding that he has never felt any discrimination there. "I am gay and a police officer. I've always kept the two separate. The marriage was very accepted and praised by the sheriff last night."


The remaining political divides hardly bothered the couples celebrating in much of Florida on Monday, January 5, and Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Churches held mass weddings for same-sex couples, as did several cities and counties at courthouses or City Halls. More than 40 couples married Tuesday morning on the red-carpet-draped steps outside Orlando's City Hall. A four-tiered wedding cake featured a rainbow-colored bottom, and Orlando's gay chorus sang "Over the Rainbow." Many couples were accompanied by their young children. "We wanted to marry on this historic day," said Brandon Walker-Hodge, who held 5-week-old daughter Karaleigh Ruth as he exchanged vows with Josh Walker-Hodge. "And really it's all about her at this point and everything that comes with the legality of marriage."


In Palm Beach County, celebrity financial adviser Suze Orman with Linda Joyce showed up at a mass courthouse wedding to support two friends. Orman, who married wife Kathy Travis a decade ago in South Africa, said she's happy same-sex couples are finally being recognized legally in Florida, where she lives part time.  "This is an investment in validity," Orman said.