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On the Road to Marriage Equality, Florida Slams Against the Worst of Homophobia

| May 22, 2014

Soon to be marriage kisses. (Bill Taroli)

Soon to be marriage kisses. (Bill Taroli)

By Daniel Tilson

Florida is nearing what could be a major step forward on marriage equality. And we have some ugly reminders that the ignorance, prejudice and downright stupidity that plagued us in a dark past, are still alive and unwelltoday.

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A ruling is expected soon in a lawsuit filed in Miami District Court in January. Equality Florida Institute, the educational and charity wing of Equality Florida, filed suit with six same-sex couples seeking equal marriage rights. As a January press release noted, the case for justice is straightforward and strong:

“The lawsuit argues that Florida’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides.”

The six long-time couples from different parts of Florida feature plaintiffs who run the gamut from physician, to artist, to successful business people and entrepreneurs. Four couples are raising children together. All have struggled for far too long to gain equal rights. As one of their lawyers, Elizabeth F. Schwartz said:

“The protections we are able to cobble together without marriage pale in comparison to the comprehensive security provided by marriage recognized not just by the federal government but by the State of Florida.”

While the plaintiffs and millions of supporters in Florida and nationwide wait for a court ruling, there’s opportunity — and news — reminding us how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go.

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This week, a Pennsylvania court issued the latest in a steady string of rulings overturning gay-marriage bans. Gov. Tom Corbett didn’t take long to announce the state wouldn’t appeal the ruling.

Like a set of social justice dominoes knocking down marriage equality barriers in state after state, the writing on the courthouse wall in Florida seems to say, “We’re Next”, if

If the Florida court rules in favor of equal rights, which seems likely, that leads to a much bigger if…

If the state of Florida — translation: Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi — chooses not to appeal such a ruling. Hmm.

Too bad we can’t move that gubernatorial election to next week, huh? But no, I checked. So if you’re guessing this case ends up in Florida Supreme Court…it’s not a sure thing, but a good guess.

As we wait it out, two stories emerge to help to frame the “Big Picture.” First was this week’s fascinating,frightening NY Times story, revealing how our federal government went on a mad witch-hunt for years, trying to identify and fire government workers labeled as gay. Read it and weep.

Then came a lunatic homophobic rant captured on video in March but revealed this week. It features Florida State Rep. Charles Van Zant telling a school privatization love-fest that Florida’s new Common Core educational standards will “attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.” Read PolitiFact Florida’s “pants on fire” assessment of that insanity, then weep or laugh, take your pick…maybe both.

Point of all this being: as we stand on the verge of progress, we are still going to have to fight like hell. We have to face up to and share the awful truth about our government’s shameful history of gay persecution.

We have to make the calls, send the emails, and sign the petitions to force our government to do the right thing. And we have to publicly condemn, marginalize and be rid of madmen who spew hate for any reason, but most especially politicians pandering for right-wing donations and votes. 

Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses. 

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16 Responses for “On the Road to Marriage Equality, Florida Slams Against the Worst of Homophobia”

  1. blondee says:

    Oh just let ’em get married and be as miserable as the rest of us!!

  2. Gia says:

    The disgrace of the country.

  3. Diana L says:

    Who are we to judge? They are protected under our great constitution. I may not understand it but they certainly should have the right to marry whom they love. Give it up people, you have already lost this. Lay down your bigotry and accept it because you aren’t going to change it nor should you. Congratulations to another step forward.

  4. Fixin up says:

    Does it really matter? Don’t we have bigger issues to worry about? Perhaps, it may actually help in some areas such as with medical costs, they would be able to cover their partner who has not able to obtain coverage…

  5. Donald Duck says:


  6. Well... says:

    I just wish everyone would just do their own thing and not worry about what their neighbor is doing. If gay citizens want to get married it doesn’t affect my relationship one iota. I have many gay friends that have been in long-term monogamous relationships (gay male couple 10 years and female lesbian couple for 20) that just want to be viewed as people. They have the same concerns as the rest of society; will I have a job next week, what about the bills, food costs, health care, saving for the future and so on. Heterosexuals are considered married under common law (varies in each state) so why not gay people? The sanctity of marriage is always the forefront of the argument. What about the USA being the #1 consumer of pornography? What about shotgun weddings followed by a regretful annulment? What about infidelity and adultery? I think us heteros are fully capable of destroying the sanctity of marriage that we don’t need GLBT marriage to be the scapegoat.

  7. Sherry Epley says:

    The following countries allow same sex marriage:

    Countries That Allow Gay Marriage

    Argentina (2010) England / Wales (2013) New Zealand (2013) South Africa (2006)
    Belgium (2003) France (2013) Norway (2009) Spain (2005)
    Brazil (2013) Iceland (2010) Portugal (2010) Sweden (2009)
    Canada (2005) The Netherlands (2000) Scotland (2014) Uruguay (2013)
    Denmark (2012)
    Countries Where Gay Marriage is Legal in Some Jurisdictions

    Mexico (2009) United States (2003)

    The citizens of the good ole US of A should feel disgraced that it is taking us so long to move beyond our puritanical prejudices and bigotry to treating all humans as blessings on this planet. . . regardless of their sexual preference, regardless of the color of their skin, regardless of their financial standing, regardless of their gender, regardless of the language they speak, regardless of their level of education. . . and regardless of what ever judgement certain segments of our culture can come up with to try and make themselves (living in their personal fear and insecurity) feel superior.

  8. look in the mirror says:

    let the cherry picking come the bible thumpers

  9. Maryjayne k Rosito says:

    No! no! No!
    It’s not right…..
    Man is made for woman as woman is for man…
    Love is one issue..
    KEEP YOUR BUSINESS & Private matters behind “YOUR” CLOSED DOORS!!
    I just do not want to see it, why do u have to take it to the church & get married?
    Stay in your home & have privacy!

  10. A.S.F. says:

    I’ve got an idea, Maryjayne, and it is a logical extension of your’s. Why don’t we ALL stay out of each others’ bedrooms and let Gay people live their lives with as much freedom, equality and opportunity as the rest of us would choose to live ours’?

    • Mary says:

      The whole idea is disgusting. I say give them what they want so they will just go away and we won’t have to look at front page pictures of them any more. Hopefully when they have medical coverage etc. they will keep their private life in their BEDROOM. I have been married 47 years and my private life has always been in my bedroom. Just saying, this country certainly has much more important issues to deal with such as mass shootings, murder, rape, war, hunger, unemployment, etc. etc.

  11. Sherry Epley says:

    Please think beyond your religious prejudices. There are huge “legal” advantages to being “married”. We could all maintain our privacy/secrets otherwise. Legal “marriage” is one thing, and can be made legal in many places. . . the court house, the beach, etc. Holy matrimony is something quite different and that’s where religion come in. Let everyone have equal rights under the laws of “marriage”!

  12. A.S.F. says:

    Would you force people to live in the shadows because they were of a different religion than you? Or a different skin color? Prejudice allowed, or enforced, by law is not okay.

  13. Jim says:

    LMAO it’s as though gays think once they get married they’ll be happy. If I were a divorce attorney I would be jumping for joy as I would see a huge increase in business. Why would you want to break into prison?

  14. Diana L says:

    Homophobia is alive and well on this thread.

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