News Sunshine State

Same-Sex Marriage In Florida Became Legal A Year Ago This Week

Written by Richard Hack

MIAMI—Happy first anniversary to Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello of Coconut Grove, and Todd and Jeff Delmay of Hollywood. Last year, on January 5, 2015, the two couples became the first same-sex spouses to be legally married in the state of Florida. They were wed by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel , who lifted the ban on same-sex marriage. Immediately  after her decision, she presided over Pareto and Arguello’s wedding just after noon.

Five months earlier on July 25, Zabel had ruled that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. At the time, however, she placed a stay on her ruling allowing the state to appeal. Months went by as Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi attempted to appeal the ruling—even attempting to have it heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. When Bondi’s request was denied, Zabel’s stay become a moot point, allowing marriages to officially happen on January 6 in the state.

Zabel lifted her stay a day earlier than the remainder of the state, which had to wait an additional 13 hours. It was good news for Pareto and Arguello, two of the original eight plantiffs in the same-sex marriage case. Arguello was pregnant at the time of her marriage. Twins Matteo and Lucia were born Aug. 6, and were added into the family that already included a 3-year-old son, Enzo.

“I’m reminded how different the landscape was in 2013 when we launched the campaign to win marriage in Florida,” Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, and one of the plaintiffs in the Miami-Dade lawsuit told the Miami Herald. “I look at these couples and say they stepped up at a moment when not even our good friends at Freedom to Marry saw our state as winnable. Our friends at Freedom to Marry didn’t have Florida listed among the long-range targets. It’s a testament to them that they partnered with us. They were extraordinary collaborators.”

“When you participate in something as historic as we did, you really get excited about the idea that one or two voices can make a difference,” Todd Delmay told the Sun-Sentinel. He and his partner Jeff Delmay followed Pareto and Arguello in getting married the day the ban fell in Miami-Dade County, becoming the first gay men married in the state.

After the impulse wedding last year, the Delmays are having a long-anticipated reception with friends and family next Saturday,  January 16, as a belated anniversary celebration.

After midnight on January 6, hundreds of weddings were performed for same-sex couples throughout Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Palm Beach, with Agenda photographer Michael Davis capturing the events.


Photo Credit: orlandosentinel