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Recognizing the Accomplishments of Florida’s Lgbt Communityby Representative Alan Grayson
Posted on 2015-01-08
in the house of representatives
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Mr. GRAYSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the
accomplishments of Florida's LGBT community in their fight against
discrimination. In particular, I would like to commend their commitment
to bringing marriage equality to the great State of Florida.
Following decades of advocacy and exhaustive legal battles, marriage equality finally became legal this week in Florida. At 12:01 a.m. on January 6, 2015, the Osceola County Courthouse opened its doors. I stood with Armando Ramirez, the county's Clerk of Courts, as he conducted the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Central Florida, which united County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb and her partner of 22 years, Patti Daugherty. At long last, the promise of marriage equality was fulfilled.
More than twenty couples participated in marriage ceremonies, before the courthouse doors closed at 2 a.m. These couples had at last achieved one of the greatest promises of this nation, the promise of equal protection under the law.
What this demonstrated is that the American Dream is not really about a house, a job, or a 401(k) plan. The American Dream is also about love, opportunity, and equality--the promise that each and every one of us has the right to love whomever we please, and the opportunity to have our love recognized equally by the law.
Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of Floridians fighting for marriage equality, same-sex couples in Florida finally had that opportunity. The marriages that began on January 6th at 12:01 a.m. could not have happened without the perseverance of these individuals.
To those Floridians who fought for this day, I say ``congratulations'' and ``thank you.'' Thank you for helping our State and our communities come one step closer to true equality. I am proud to have worked with you to achieve this goal. There is more work to be done, and I look forward to serving as your ally in the years ahead.
The Osceola County Commission and the Osceola County Clerk of Courts Armando Ramirez also deserve thanks for their efforts. When county clerks in Florida were advised that they would face arrest if they issued same-sex licenses, Commissioner Grieb and I called on State Attorney Jeff Ashton to promise that he would not prosecute clerks for doing so. Thankfully, he agreed. Following my letter urging the County Commission to ensure that same-sex marriages could take place in Osceola County immediately, the Commission and the Clerk worked together to issue licenses and conduct ceremonies as soon as legally possible.
I also want to acknowledge the Floridians who fought for marriage equality but never lived to see this dream become reality. For those who called for marriage equality when others said it was impossible; those who had the audacity to believe in equality when many could not; and those who paved the way for this historical achievement but never experienced it for themselves. This is their legacy. May their memory serve as an inspiration for the next generation of Floridians striving to achieve a more equal and just world.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to celebrate this enormous accomplishment and honor the Floridians who made this happen.