Statewide Freedom To Marry

Wedding bells ring in a new era for Florida, but is this only the beginning of a new challenge?



Cajisha Telusme, Staff Writer

The world rang in 2015 with one of the most historic rulings in Florida history.

Judge Robert Hinkle of the Federal District Court in Tallahassee cleared the way for Florida with an earlier ruling in August where he stated that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. Judge Hinkle was later requested to clarify his ruling and he said that all 67 Florida counties were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples this week. If a clerk of court fails to follow this ruling he/she can face lawsuits or other legal consequences.

The previous ban ended statewide at the tick-tock of midnight on the first Monday of the New Year making Florida the 36th state to legally wed couples of the same sex. Court clerks in some counties wasted no time issuing marriage licenses and performing weddings for same-sex couples. Many couples who obtained their marriage licenses in the early morning hours were couples who had been protesting and paving the way for same sex marriage since 2008 and earlier.

The political geography of Florida reveals that more than 4 million Republicans are registered in Florida, which suggests that many of the state’s population is right-leaning and opposed to same sex marriage. An advancement of same sex rights shows the new direction of society and its attitude toward accepting diversity and the new social normality.

“I approve of same-sex marriage,” said senior Wisline Augustin. “I know a bunch of people who aren’t straight and have boyfriends and girlfriends, and I know all they want is to live their lives together so I think it’s great.”

It has been credited that many teenagers who are accepting of same-sex ideals have been exposed to homosexual characters and relationships in the media through reality television shows (RuPaul’s Drag Race), movies and TV sitcoms, such as Modern Family, Orange is the New Black, Faking It, and The Red Band Society. This exposure and positive representation of LGBT characters immediately allows younger people to be familiar with the principles of homosexuals and realize that they’re people who are no different than anyone else and can’t be told apart any more or less than anyone else.

As of now, more than 70% of the United States grants marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many still disagree and oppose the newly granted rights of these individuals however, these feelings of fear or hatred toward same-sex couples are not only found in political party systems or older citizens, they are also seen in high schools.

“Gay people deserve the same respect as anyone else,” said Donovan Flowers, an openly gay Junior student. “Most people that are gay at this school get bullied and pushed around but I, personally, haven’t experienced bullying because I’m a strong person and I don’t feed into it but I still sympathize with it because it could’ve been me.”

A Santaluces freshman expressed an outlook toward same-sex couples and their right to marry. Uttering as much as “they should go to other states that already legalize same-sex marriage,” claiming it would be “way easier than trying to change the world to like gays.”

This proves that not everyone thinks the same. Many believe that making a decision to the benefit and content of everyone is impossible, but making a difference for the greater good that steers away from discrimination is practical. Judge Robert Hinkle places it simply: “Reasonable people can debate whether the ruling in this case was correct and who it binds but there should be no debate, however, on the question whether a clerk of court may follow the ruling.”

Florida’s flood of same-sex marriages this week has drawn the attention of the White House, where press secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama was “pleased to see that Florida is taking a step in the direction of freedom and liberty.”

This new ruling shows a growing acceptance for gay people in today’s society, allowing same sex marriage enables individuals of any gender to mix and mingle, fall in love, and have their love officially recognized by the legal courts as a legitimate married couple, with the same federal benefits as any other married couple, joined in matrimony.