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Gay Marriage Comes to Florida

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Gay Marriage Comes to Florida Photo courtesy Colin Hackley

On Tuesday, January 6th of 2015, gay marriage came to Florida, the first state in the Deep South to open its doors for gay men and women to legally marry. Gracing the covers of national and international newspapers are photos of the first men to marry in the capitol city of Tallahassee. The photos made the cover news of The Advocate and Out magazines as well as many national newspapers. What is unique for our own Prime Timer News is that the cover photo of the marriage is made up totally of men from the Tallahassee Chapter of Prime Timers. Included in the photo of the three couples being married is the minister Jerry Edwards, the president of the local Prime Timer chapter. One of the couples includes George Brophy, the Vice President of the chapter. 

The law change also recognizes legal marriages performed in other states and countries. Jerry and his husband David Luke had married in Vermont in 2013 and their marriage was recognized at midnight the morning of January 6. Quite a few Tallahassee Prime Timers were similarly recognized for marriages already in place at the time the ban was struck down.

Florida's ban was written into their constitution in 2008, preventing the government from recognizing marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof between two people of the same gender. This was on top of an existing statute which already limited marriage and which criminalized the performance of commitment ceremonies by anyone who is authorized by statute (ministers, notaries, judges and justices of the peace) to perform licensed marriages.

Several groups in south and central Florida took on the ban last year in state courts, but it was a Tallahassee couple married in Canada who took the issue to Federal Court and won. Their suit was later joined by friends seeking to marry, and the judge consolidated a case into it that was filed later by a larger group of already married couples with the assistance of the ACLU and Equality Florida.

The state has moved swiftly to extend benefits to its married employees. While the last of the necessary computer system changes are being developed, the state employee benefits administrators are setting up family benefits by phone. Many major private employers already extended family benefits, but at least one, Publix Supermarkets, extended family coverage to coincide with the end of the ban. This is not a law change requiring equal treatment for gay and lesbian families, it is a law change to allow it.

Prime Timers are nearly everywhere in the world, and they play primary roles in the forefront of making everyday life an honorable and satisfying event.

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Last modified on Sunday, 09 August 2015 19:38