Project Get Engaged! Hopes to Achieve Gay Marriage in Florida

July 16, 2013

Many Floridians felt underwhelmed after the DOMA appeal. After all, Florida wasn’t even close to legalizing gay marriage so, nothing short of uprooting our lives and moving to California, how could this affect us? Equality Florida—the premiere gay rights organization in Florida—understood this dilemma and crafted a project as a solution: Get Engaged!.

In conjunction with the national organization Freedom to Marry, Get Engaged is focused on swaying the public opinion in Florida on gay marriage. Similar organizations in states across the country paved the way for marriage equality and the recent Supreme Court victory. Florida is part of the equation, now—a leader in the South in terms of acceptance. In 2008, 60% of voters embedded marriage discrimination into the constitution, but today 54% of voters are in support of marriage for same-sex couples.

Despite these dramatic gains, polls indicate that 63% of voters don’t realize that the majority supports marriage equality. Get Engaged! is focused on the fastest path to marriage equality in Florida. The organization has just about everything on the table, including new legal challenges and the possibility of going back to the ballot to overturn Florida’s discriminatory ban. On the website, www.imengaged.org, there is a link to become a plaintiff in a Florida marriage lawsuit.

The website also highlights the real stories of people affected by Florida’s lack of marriage equality, including Fred and Sarge, living in Tamarac who have been together for 20 years. Frank and Sarge actually met in New York City. They are the proud pet-parents of six cats: Sundance, Smoke, Kaya, Norma Jean, and Gilean. They have the benefit of a Domestic Partnership in Broward County, but they’ve had to take extra measures to protect their life decisions and property.

Ed Lally and Phil Dinkins met 36 years ago at Badland’s bar in downtown Louisville on a Tuesday evening. While their first date was casually held at a Steak-N-Shake, their feelings began to grow. A few months of dating led to their long 36-year relationship. The couple is still thriving in Tampa, but they too want to be able to express their relationship through marriage.

Get Engaged! highlights exactly why marriage is so important. Without changing the public opinion on how important gay marriage is in the state, it is unlikely that we could gain that freedom. According to the website, marriage says “We are family” like no other word. It is a fundamental freedom that no person should be denied. It strengthens families in a way no other “domestic partnership” or “civil union” possibly could. State and federal marriage laws provide a safety net of local and economic protections for the couples and their children, including hospital visitation rights and the ability to transfer property.

Even more interestingly, the website also targets specific ethnic communities and how gay marriage may affect them. For example, the African-American community has the highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children. 58% of black female same-sex couples and 45% of black male same-sex couples are raising children. Because they are more likely to be raising children, at comparatively lower wages, black same-sex couples have more to gain from legal recognition of their relationships and more to lose when states pass amendments banning marriage and other forms of partner recognition.

Get Engaged! is hoping for as much support as possible in stretching the gay marriage fight across Florida. With more public awareness across the state on the importance of gay marriage, it’s inevitable that gay marriage will be achieved right here in Florida.

Log on to www.imengaged.org and find out how you can help in your own way.

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