Second same sex couple to marry in Florida speaks out

Wedding bells will ring and the court documents will prove that a 36th state has been added to a list of others that now recognize same sex marriage.

Florida was the most recent state to wed domestic partnerships on Jan. 6, allowing couples like Jeff and Todd Delmay to officially tie the knot.

First it was Cambridge, Mass. that legally recognized same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004, then 35 other states and the District of Columbia eventually followed suit.

“It isn’t always in life that you can fight for something you want and get it exactly as you asked for it,” said Todd Delmay, who married his partner of 12 years.

The two made history as they became the second couple in Florida to be married on Jan. 5, when Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay on same sex marriage.

Twenty-four hours later, the ban on same sex marriage would be lifted.

“When Jeff and I got together, we didn’t talk about marriage because it seemed unlikely that it would happen in our lifetime, and suddenly, here was this possibility,” Delmay said.

When the judge said, “With the power vested in me,” Delmay said he “practically jumped.”

“That’s what we have been fighting for all this time,” Delmay said. “That was the moment when I said, ‘yes, we won!’”

Delmay said that as soon as he and Jeff got engaged in the fight for marriage equality, he became acquainted with other plaintiff couples, who, like him, wanted to marry their respective partners.

He met couples across Florida who would get very emotional when thinking about what marriage meant to them.

“When I look at the thousands of people who express their love for each other,” Delmay said. “I realized we played such a small role in it [the recognition of same sex marriage].”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., invited the Delmays as guests to accompany her to the 2015 State of The Union address.  She was an advocate for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Schultz became optimistic about the future of LGBT rights.

“Today, we proudly turn the page on marriage discrimination and look toward a future that is more loving and closer to our ideals as a state,”  Schultz said in a press release the day of the first legal marriage. “We're not going back. We're going forward.”

Delmay added that he and Jeff were amazed to see the president discuss LGBT rights and move it to the forefront of society.

“It was such an amazing experience,” Delmay said. “We were so honored. We really felt like we were representing every same sex family in every way.”

Meanwhile, 14 other states have no provisions for allowing gay marriage.

Same sex marriage is still banned in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee.

State courts have declared same-sex marriage bans in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota and Texas unconstitutional, but the rulings have been stayed.

Many United States citizens oppose same sex marriage, contending that marriage is a sacred sanction between a man and a woman.

Brian Brown, the president of The National Organization For Marriage, NOM, vehemently opposes Florida’s recognition of same sex marriage.

It is simply illegitimate for the opinion of a federal district judge to trump the decision of millions of Floridians and attempt to redefine marriage in violation of Federal law,” Brown said in a press release issued by NOM. “We demand that the U.S. Supreme Court act immediately to review the pending marriage case before them and swiftly reaffirm that states have the right to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

The U.S. Supreme Court will tackle the issue of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, or whether states are allowed to ban gay marriage. The nine justices are expected to have a ruling by June.