Pride and uncertainty for Florida LGBT community

Potential FL impact of SCOTUS rulings

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - From West Palm Beach to Washington, D.C., gay marriage supporters were claiming victory after two landmark decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which now paves the way for federal marriage benefits for same-sex married couples. The court cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California.

"I feel like we are over the hump," said PJ Layng of West Palm Beach. "I feel the momentum is forward." Layng and Maryann McCarthy have been together 19 years.

They were legally married in Massachusetts a decade ago and are living now in Florida. The couple has questions now about what legal rights they may have here in the future.

"We are married and we hope that we will get married in Florida as well and that we will have federal rights," said McCarthy, who was gathering at Grandview Gardens Bed & Breakfast in West Palm Beach for an event for the Pride Business Alliance , formed in 2005. The Alliance was founded with the initial goal of providing the community with a safe directory of resources of LGBT-friendly businesses and individuals.

It is still unclear how the federal government will recognize married same-sex couples - like Layng and McCarthy - who live in states such as Florida where gay marriage is not legal. "It's going to involved a lot of litigation and we have a lot of work to do," said Layng.

Carlos Toro and Michael McKeich are not yet married. But they hope that the Supreme Court rulings Wednesday will someday mean a change here in the Sunshine State.

"Even though it really doesn't do a whole lot for us in Florida I think will open up some doors later on," said McKeich, who lives with Toro in Royal Palm Beach.

Governor Rick Scott says he will uphold the 2008 voter-approved amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Though they feel they are in legal limbo now, gay marriage advocates are hopeful for what is to come. "I marched with Harvey Milk in San Francisco," said McCarthy. "It's been a long haul and I am just thrilled," she said.

Advocates of gay marriage at the state level say a ballot proposal to repeal Florida's constitutional amendment is not yet planned for next year.
 

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