NUMBER OF FEDERAL RIGHTS CONFERRED BY MARRIAGE, VERY FEW OF WHICH WILL BE AVAILABLE TO FLORIDA SAME-SEX COUPLES FOLLOWING THE JUNE 26 U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING OVERTURNING PART OF THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT
NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES RESIDING IN ORANGE COUNTY, RANKING THE COUNTY THIRD AMONG ALL COUNTIES REPRESENTING FLORIDA’S 65,000 SAME-SEX COUPLES
PERCENTAGE OF U.S. POPULATION THAT WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE SUPREME COURT RULING, INCLUDING RESIDENTS OF 12 STATES THAT ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE, PLUS THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
“THE LAWS OF OUR LAND ARE CATCHING UP TO THE FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH THAT MILLIONS OF AMERICANS HOLD IN OUR HEARTS: WHEN ALL AMERICANS ARE TREATED AS EQUAL, NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE OR WHOM THEY LOVE, WE ARE ALL MORE FREE.”
– PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
SOURCES: U.S. CENSUS Bureau, CNN
A funny thing happened on the way to the weekend. On June 26, just as we were beginning to nibble away at the last of our appendages, anxiously awaiting our well-deserved judgment scowls from the U.S. Supreme Court’s Archie Bunker, Antonin Scalia, a rainbow shot through the nation and delivered a 5-4 verdict that emasculated the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. Through the rat-tat-tat of the scotusblog.com feed, most of us tried to wrap our heads around what it would all mean, especially considering that, on the same day, the court remanded California’s same-sex marriage-banning Proposition 8 back to the lower courts – which made it OK to gay marry in California again, just not anywhere else that had a similar ban (cough, Florida).
A chorus of “legal analysts” stirred up the resulting ether with varying possibilities for Dick and Dick or Jane and Jane if they nuptialized in a gay-marriage-allowing state, but then relocated to a gay-marriage-hating state – Justice Kennedy’s ruling did, after all, dismiss the discrimination of DOMA without removing the provision that allowed states to play a la carte with their matrimonial recognition – but the general consensus was that, no, thanks to our state constitutional amendment affirming anti-bigotry (and passed by you in 2008), all the warm fuzzies would remain outside of the Sunshine State. Sure looks nice from way down here in hell, guys!
But let’s not totally devalue the monumental Supreme Court decision from Wednesday. If we’re to see matters of gay rights as part of a movement – and, really, we should, because not every gay person wants to be married like Bert and Ernie – then it has to be recognized how much of a catalyst federal recognition like this is meant to be for campaigns, even in measly states like our own. Nowhere was that more apparent than on the banks of Lake Eola at the June 27 Marriage Equality Rally, which attracted a pride-parade-level of revelers numbering at a reported 5,000. Oh, and it wasn’t even boring!
Highlights included rousing speeches from Orlando city commissioner Patty Sheehan and state Rep. Linda Stewart, along with a suitably camped and vamped version of the Les Miserables anthem “Do You Hear the People Sing?” by the Orlando Gay Chorus. But even that harmonic convergence of queer righteousness couldn’t drown out the evening’s real star, everybody’s worst-kept-secret choice for Orange County Mayor in 2014, Val Demings. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all people are created equal,” she paraphrased something famous that was once written in calligraphy. So possessed was her performance that you almost couldn’t hear the crowd chanting “Mayor, mayor, mayor” back at her.
Of course, not every political force of nature was pleased with the Supreme Court decision. Gov. Rick Scott had let this one squeak out of his pants: “It impacted federal law, not state law,” Scott said according to the Miami Herald’s Naked Politics. “In 2008, Florida voters amended our constitution and said that we are a traditional-marriage state, that marriage is between a man and a woman. As the governor of this state, I’ll uphold the law of the land, and that’s the law of our state.”
“Look, I’ve been married since I was 19. I believe in traditional marriage,” he added, because nobody really wants to think about that bedtime story.
Perhaps more embarrassing was the statement issued by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, most recently noted for gay-panicking and doggie paddling his way out of bipartisan immigration reform if it even so much as looked at him sideways like a gay person. Rubio is not happy about the DOMA ruling on its face.
“I believe that marriage is a unique historical institution best defined as the union between one man and one woman. In the U.S., marriage has traditionally been defined by state law, and I believe each state, acting through their elected representatives or the ballot, should decide their own definition of marriage. For the purposes of federal law, however, Congress had every right to adopt a uniform definition and I regret that the Supreme Court would interfere with that determination,” he said in his statement.
Perhaps even more intriguing, though, is the fact that among the 1,138 rights that same-sex couples in Florida will have to wait for regardless of the DOMA ruling, one right got its first real gay airing in the Sunshine State just two days after the historic Supreme Court decision. Ft. Lauderdale couple Julian Marsh and Traian “Tray” Popov, married legally in New York last year, were the first to be approved under the new policy for the latter’s green card application on Friday. Florida, it should be noted, ranks third in the nation for bi-national same-sex couples, so though it may feel like we’re not benefiting much from everybody else’s pride parade, we’re still capable of achieving things that make Rubio stay up late and pout all night.
And until we can pull out every lawsuit possible and stage whatever political mechanism necessary in order to democratically erase the stain of the Amendment 2 gay-marriage ban from our state constitution, and, well, fire everybody in power who sleeps on Bibles instead of pillows, maybe that little bit of schadenfreude will have to do.
Happy Dependence Day, some of America! Someday we’ll all be free to be not free!
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