Demonstrators gather in Tampa for gay marriage
Barb Lawrence and Kimmy Denny are encouraged that on Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
They've been together since December and would like to get married. For that to be possible in Florida, however, there has to be a precedent set at the federal level, they said.
“Florida is so backwards,” said Denny, 43, of Palm Harbor. “It will have to be at the federal level before we see any rights in Florida.”
Lawrence and Denny were a part of the more than 200 people who attended a rally outside the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa, where speakers and participants urged the country's top justices to make marriage equal for all.
Tyler Meagley spoke to the audience. The 13-year-old Hillsborough County resident said he's being raised by two moms, and doesn't understand the hang-up with letting people of the same sex marry.
“Marriage should be seen as a bond between two people who love each other,” Meagley said.
“My two moms mean the world to each other,” he said. “And I mean the world to them.”
“Gay people aren't some poison. If we don't fix this right now, we'll be bigger idiots.”
The Rev. John Paul Ransom of Living Faith Metropolitan Community Church in Dunedin said the tide is changing. In the past, support for gay marriage nationally was in the minority. Not anymore, he said.
“Our opponents are in the minority right now,” said Ransom, who also spoke to the crowd. “Gay marriage is not a threat to straight marriage.”
“Hatred and prejudice does nothing but divide,” he said.
People held signs at the rally including “Manifest Equality,” “Love is Love” and “We are One Human Race.” They chanted and cheered when cars honked in support.
Jarrod Scarbrough, state leader for GetEqual Florida, asked people to be patient. The Supreme Court will hear the case on Wednesday, but not rule until June. He warned that the fight will be long, but urged people to keep on keeping on.
“The arch is starting to bend towards us – towards equality,” Scarbrough said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.