It’s not every day you can get married, where you work, and it’s not every day your boss can help marry you.
On Tuesday, Channel 9’s Karla Ray was with one same sex couple as they skipped the line at the courthouse before getting married at Orlando City Hall.
For six years, Bill Stevens and his partner, Robert Brings, have walked each other through life. They have been engaged for five years.
On Tuesday, they made a walk they thought might never happen in their home state of Florida.
“We had just made plans to go to
D.C. to get married in April, because we thought it was not going to happen here,” said Stevens.
Getting Orange County Clerk of the Courts Tiffany Moore Russell to issue their marriage license didn’t come without a struggle.
The men and a lesbian couple sued for the right to marry after being denied a marriage license on Christmas Eve.
That suit forced the clerk to ask a judge for clarification on whether same-sex marriages would be allowed starting Jan. 6.
“I do ” at City Hall held special meaning for Stevens and Brings. Stevens works for, and is a close friend to, openly gay Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan.
Sheehan helped marry her friends
, and dozens of others at a special ceremony.
“You hope a day like this can come. I mean, I know these guys have been planning this for so long,” said Sheehan.
“It’s rare, so we’re extremely lucky,” said Stevens.
Outside the Orange County courthouse the first couple hoping to be married lined up at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“It’s great. It’s also great to be part of the history that’s going down today, too,” said Natalie Savage.
Rollins College professor and historian Julian Chambliss said that even though Florida is the 36th state to legalize gay marriage, Tuesday is a significant day because Florida is the largest southern conservative state to legalize same-sex marriage.
“That standard, at some level has been met across the country and in other states, and Florida kind of stood out as a benchmark, as a holdout,” said Chambliss.
A 2012 Gallup poll estimates 3.5 percent of Floridians are gay but in Orlando that number is much higher at an estimated 7.7 percent. That puts Orlando in the top ten for major metropolitan cities in the entire country…
“We outweigh a lot of people now,” said Savage.
Orlando City Commissioner helps marry gay friends | www.wftv.com.