Gay Floridians celebrate after Supreme Court ruling

June 26, 2013
WFLA Tampa

ST PETERSBURG - Wednesday's US Supreme Court rulings have been celebrated by same-sex supporters across our area.

But since gay marriage is not recognized by Florida, the fight in the Sunshine state is just beginning.

‘Equality Florida' is the state's largest LGBT civil rights organization.

‘Equality Florida' Executive Director Brian Winfield said, "This is a quantum leap forward for our whole nation."

Members of ‘Equality Florida' are encouraged and emboldened by Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings, but same-sex marriage is not recognized in Florida.

Winfield said, "What that means for folks in Florida and other states with constitutional bans is that some really important benefits at the federal level will be denied. And we can't stand for that. We have to get up and oppose it."

Ed Lally and his husband Phil Dinkins got married in Canada.

Lally said, "Our marriage doesn't mean anything here [in Florida.] And it still doesn't mean anything here."  

They call Florida home and they don't want to move anywhere else.

Lally said, "We pay our taxes like everybody else. We should be entitled to the same benefits and protection as anybody else does."

The local Catholic Church denounced Wednesday's decision. Bishop Robert Lynch from the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg said, "The Catholic Church has a great interest in the definition of marriage since it is one of its seven sacraments. We firmly believe that marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman.  I pray that no civil legislation will ever require of us or any religion the freedom to define marriage for our own ecclesial purpose."

Winfield said, "What we're fighting for is civil marriage. We would never support an effort to require any religion to recognize a marriage that doesn't fit into its norms, so this is really about a basic civil right."

The folks from ‘Equality Florida' emphasized that the word 'marriage' is incredibly meaningful- more so than 'civil unions.'

"Marriage describes family in a way that no other word does. Whether people agree with you or disagree with you, they understand what you mean when you say ‘we are married,'" said Winfield.

Same-sex marriage supporter Katee Tully said, "That is so significant for us for it to be 100% and not some version or variation or tiered down step of marriage."

These supporters hope to make lasting change in the sunshine state.

Winfield said, "Our goal is to change the constitution in the state of Florida so that marriages for same sex couples, marriage equality will not be denied any longer."

This weekend St Petersburg will play host to the St Pete Pride street festival. It's one of the largest pride festivals in Florida.

Executive Director Eric Skains said he is thrilled about today's US Supreme Court decisions. He expects a spike in attendance for this weekend's festival.

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