As you may know from the headlines, the same-sex marriage ban in Florida was overturned, effective today. My work office is next door to Orlando City Hall, where the mayor agreed to perform a ceremony for dozens of couples this morning out on the steps. Indeed, I thought my first same-sex wedding was going to be that of some friends on the Disney property later this month, but I felt like there was something historic going on here that I should see for myself. I'm glad that I did.
It wasn't easy to fit the couples into a box, as they ranged from young to old. In fact, the mayor said one couple had been together for 40 years. That's a long time to wait. One couple had a very young baby. For all of the times I've seen this change on TV, state by state, seeing it happen gave me a different perspective.
To this point, my advocacy was largely centered on two ideas, the first being that it's really not up to anyone (or the government) to dictate which two people are allowed to love each other, and the second being that same-sex couples should have every kind of legal protection that I have with my wife when it comes to property rights, employment benefits, probate issues, child custody, etc.
But despite having gay friends going as far back as college, back when it wasn't particularly safe to be "out," I guess I never really put forward the idea that two human beings shouldn't be denied the basic human respect that they're entitled to. While I would certainly not care what entities recognize my marriage, I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't be hurtful if others could enjoy that recognition and I could not. What I saw today on the faces of those couples was not just the typical tears of joy one has when they're married, but a burden lifted that said they were no longer treated differently in the eyes of the law, and likely in the long run, of society.
Today was a step in the right direction, though we certainly have a long way to go. Ohio is still backward, and I find that embarrassing. On the other hand, I was surprised to see today that Publix, the grocery store chain, has said it would offer health benefits to all of its employees' partners, regardless of whether or not they lived in a "legal" state.
So congrats to the couples that made it legal today! I'm happy that I was able to be there.