THREE PERSPECTIVES ON GAY MARRIAGE.
Whether you call it same sex marriage or gay marriage or civil unions, no matter what you call it, it is coming to Florida. Until recently gay marriage in America was unfathomable. I remember people not long ago saying that they didn’t think they would ever live to see same-sex people marring in America. However, in the past several years America has been leaning towards acceptance of gay marriage.
I tend to make decisions based on what is best for business. I think that everyone needs to work. Being able to keep a roof over their head and being able to put food on the table is the most important and fundamental concern for most Americans. Miami has recently become very gay-friendly with gay communities in South Beach and in various little pockets throughout South Florida. Perhaps I may be a bit more desynthesized to being around openly gay people than someone from a much more conservative state who lives in a city with no openly gay friendly communities. It has been reported that Miami is going to be a prime location for same-sex weddings. More weddings means more money. New York reported that they have collected $259 million in state licensing fees alone for same-sex unions since 7/24/2011. Williams Institute at UCLA estimated that same-sex weddings would boost the economies in Maine, Maryland and Washington by $166 million over the next three years.
Despite the expected revenue boost, this topic is still very controversial and people on either side of this issue ardently believe they are right. Furthermore, they could give a hoot about financial impacts of gay marriage. I spoke with three friends who have vastly different opinions on this topic and I think their opinions accurately represent the primary perspectives in America.
Mark Arvizu of California wrote:
“I am against the government being involved in marriage of any sort...straight, homosexual, sideways, crooked ...Marriage is none of the government's filthy tentacles business. I believe they should have zero jurisdiction in marriage.”
For a gay person the issue of government involvement is practically the entire reason for wanting to legalize gay marriage. Ricky Dominguez and Carlos del Rosario Dominguez from South Florida recently married in South Carolina where gay marriage has been legal for some time. I asked Ricky what he wanted the world to know about gay marriage and why he married in SC instead of FL. His answer surprised me. I half expected a more politically charged answer like Mark’s and I also expected some bashing of opposers to gay marriage but his answer was purely for personal reasons about he and his partner. Ricky simply didn't want one more minute to go by un-married with Carlos. I felt the same way when I asked my wife to marry me. As I read his answer I realized that we were just two guys who loved the person we were with and we wanted something more official than what we currently had together. Ricky wrote the following statement:
"We are glad that it finally came here [to FL], our reason for going ahead and doing it [in SC] was based on the fact that we had made a promise to each other that no matter what happens we were getting married THIS year. Life has a funny way of throwing curves at you and we were no longer willing to wait. We wanted to make sure that were something to happen, we would be taken care of. As you know, there are many benefits gained by being married and we wanted to begin to enjoy those without waiting one more minute. We were glad when we finally heard about marriage equality here, but had all the plans already laid out for our trip to South Carolina."
Finally, I asked my friend Alberto Rojas his thoughts and his answer also surprised me. At first glance his point of view is not too different from Mark Arvizu’s view. Alberto also does not like that government is involved in marriage. They differ in that Alberto believes the government should protect a person’s right to be gay if they want to be gay but the government should not make laws that offends another person's religious view. I know Alberto to be a good Catholic man. I see him as the embodiment of the person who would vehemently be against homosexuality, much less legalizing same-sex marriage. For people like Alberto, they answer to a higher power than manmade laws. Alberto wrote the following statement:
“There's probably nothing wrong with gay marriage from a legal perspective....however, for those of us who study the Bible, there is nothing right with that either.......as clearly stated there....Marriage is a public act and as long as a majority of people in a particular society think it's wrong, for any of a number of reasons, including the bible, it should not be sanctioned by the Govt. of such society. A couple's privacy is guaranteed by the Constitution, therefore, whatever they want to do in their private lives, that's up to them.........I do believe that LEGAL AND TAX ARRANGEMENTS can be legislated to FIT a gay couple as well as any other type of partnership.”
I was surprised to see that he accepts homosexuality - of course as long as it is in private and as long as the government does not legalize an act that is in direct conflict with his religious views. I believe his perspective is shared by most people who are against legalizing gay marriage. This perspective may seem harsh to some but believe it or not it is a softened position versus what the predominant view on homosexuality once was in America – or the current view in other countries like Russia. Earlier this year HBO released a documentary titled, "Hunted: The War Against Gays In Russia." The documentary exposed how straight people “hunt” gays, they publicly shame gays and even kill them and then post videos of the crimes on the internet. Worst of all, the Russian government silently supports this by not investigating these horrific crimes. To date, not a single arrest has been made for gay bashing in Russia. In America sexual preference alone is not the issue. The gripe is that the government is legalizing a public act that offends the religious views of the majority merely to appease a few.
I am not advocating any one perspective. I already stated that I tend to make decisions based on economics but I am definitely in the minority on this topic. This topic means so much more to so many people. We can all agree that gay marriage is coming and there is nothing anyone can do about it. To that end, America will have to lead the world by demonstrating tolerance and respect for others. I know that tolerance and respect are shown in different ways by people of varying points of view. Mark may believe that respect and tolerance is shown by the government not getting involved at all and leaving these issues to each individual person to deal with. Ricky & Carlos may believe respect and tolerance is shown by not trampling on their rights and that they just want to be like everyone else. Alberto may say that respect and tolerance is accepting homosexuality as long as the government does not legalize an act that is directly opposed to his religious view. Whatever respect and tolerance is to you, I hope that in the end we can find a way of accepting people with different opinions. Perhaps it would be naive to think that we could give goodwill to people who have a different opinion but we can’t deny that respect and tolerance is the key to finding ways of living together on this planet. What is the alternative? A mediator once told me that his job is done when he finds the point where both sides are unhappy. This way both sides have to give something up and accept the outcome.
The following is a chronology of events pertaining to the recognition of same-sex marriages in Florida since 2008.
2008 Floridians voted to ban same-sex marriage and a constitutional amendment is created banning legal recognition of same-sex unions in Florida.
1/21/2014 Lawsuit filed by National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on behalf of Equality Florida Institute and six same-sex couples against Harvey Ruvin, Miami-Dade Court Clerk of Court. The case is referred to as "Pareto v. Ruvin" is a challenge to Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
7/2/2014 Pareto v. Ruvin Case is argued.
7/17/2014 Monroe County, FL Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia, declared the ban unconstitutional in a case brought by a Key West couple.
7/25/2014 Pareto v. Ruvin Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel ordered that six same-sex couples who sued Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin for marriage licenses in January should be allowed to wed. There will be no weddings yet: In her ruling, Judge Zabel ordered an immediate stay until after the case is appealed.
8/21/2014 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle struck down Florida's ban on marriage for same-sex couples, the first federal court victory in Florida. Judge Robert Hinkle ruled Florida's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The decision was stayed pending appeal. State courts in two cases challenging the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples have agreed that Florida's statutes and constitution violate the federal constitution. Those courts in Miami-Dade County (Pareto v. Ruvin) and Monroe County (Huntsman v. Heavilin) have stayed enforcement of their decisions pending appeal.
8/28/2014 A state appeals court rejected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's request to hold off on deciding the constitutionality of Florida's gay-marriage ban until after the U.S. Supreme Court someday rules on the issue. “Upon consideration, appellant's motions to stay briefing are denied,” the Miami-based Third District Court of Appeal said in a terse ruling Thursday. “That is the best news of the day. We would have been sitting in limbo for an undetermined amount of time,” said attorney Bernadette Restivo, who represents Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, two Key West bartenders who on July 17 won the right to marry in Monroe County Circuit Court.
11/17/2014 Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed appeals in both state and federal appeals courts, seeking to overturn a number of rulings declaring Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional by declaring that the trial courts’ rulings “were wrong.” Bondi asked the state’s Third District Court of Appeals to overrule two South Florida judges who overturned the ban. The appeals come in the rulings by Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis Garcia, who declared the ban unconstitutional on July 17 in a case brought by a Key West couple, and a July 25 ruling by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel in a case brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of six same-sex couples.
12/3/2014 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle for the 11th Circuit denied the state's request to extend a stay in this ruling, declaring that the stay will be lifted on January 5, 2015. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court grants an extension, the freedom to marry should take effect on January 5, 2015 as the appeal proceeds to the11th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
1/5/2015 The stay on gay marriage is expected to be lifted at the end of this day.
1/6/2015 Same sex couples will be able to marry or gain recognition unless the federal appeals court extends the stay.
Ricky Dominguez and Carlos del Rosario Dominguez getting married in SC.