LAKE WORTH, Fla. - Even though gay marriage in Florida seems like it's a long way off, gay rights advocates are buoyed by the decision of the New York State legislature to legalize the practice.
The CEO of the largest lesbian and gay community center in the Southeastern U.S. in Lake Worth says gay marriage is inevitable.
Tony Plakas wears a wedding ring as a symbol of his committed relationship with his partner. But he won't fly to a New York for a wedding, because it wouldn't have legal standing here. Florida's constitutional amendment says so.
"Just because another state opens up, doesn't mean that they're going to be able to have their dream wedding," said Plakas, who is the CEO of Compass in Lake Worth.
Yet Plakas points to polls that show young people support gay rights in large enough numbers that someday Florida politicians will seem out of step.
"They're older white men who are arguing about what kids who are watching Glee are able to tolerate," said Plakas.
Not so fast, says Pastor Mark Boykin.
Gay rights advocates are hoping that the parts of the New York law that protect religious figures from being sued if they won't perform a gay wedding will be a tactic that can be used here. But the Boca Raton Pentecostal pastor is confident voters aren't ready to about-face their Florida constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
"It seems like right now, the movement is in favor of New York. When you get to that I-4 axis, it's like a wall, trust me. They're going to find out very soon that this isn't Albany, this is Florida," said Boykin.
Yet, he predicts another brewing fight sooner or later.
"This is going to be something that is going to exceed even the immigration issue," said Boykin.
Gay rights advocates like Plakas say they don't expect large numbers of people to head from South Florida to New York for marriage licenses. He says they already would have done that in Massachusetts.
Pastor Boykin says he's readying his followers for the next fight over gay marriage with a take-no-prisoners sermon in a few weeks.
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