Two years ago today, Florida was thankfully forced to legalize same-sex marriage. On that day, Tampa held a mass wedding. The (then future) wife and I went to document the joyous occasion. These are the pictures and a short essay I wrote about it.
Today, January 6th, 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in Florida. For all of the dumbassedness that is the great state of Florida on most days, today was different. Today was not one of those days. Today we got right. As couples, their families, on-lookers, and the press started spilling into Joe Chillura Courthouse Square in downtown Tampa, the vibe was universally joyous. Everyone was just happy. Really, truly happy.
A little before noon Hillsborough County Clerk Of The Court Pat Frank made her way through the square. On most days, she’s a faceless government bureaucrat that the majority of people couldn’t pick out of a one person line-up with name tags. Today was not one of those days. Today, she was a bonafide rock star. Wearing her late husband’s judicial robe, she walked with a purpose, when she could. Couples were stopping her every few feet to pose for pictures, convey their gratitude, and even ask for autographs. Seriously. Autographs. Rock star. Frank has been a hard fighting supporter of same sex marriage and the royal treatment was well deserved.
Only two protesters showed up. Holding a bible and shouting things about who they think marriage is really for. Calling for all to repent. These two gentlemen were largely ignored by the crowd. A few tried to kill them with kindness, and some followed them with signage. What shut them down was a plea to be respectful from both Tampa’s Police Chief Jane Castor and Pat Frank. The two protesters slipped away before The Big Gay Wedding got started.
As the ceremony got underway, I watched from above the crowd, up a few steps, just feet to the side of Pat Frank. As I snapped pictures, I started catching little moments of emotion. A woman reaching over to squeeze her partner’s hand. A man looking longingly at his soon-to-be husband, while said husband doesn’t realize the glance is happening. A teary eye. A sigh. These little beautiful moments were happening all around. I was humbled by the pure love and joy that I was witness to. I felt honored to be there to help document Tampa’s celebration of Marriage Equality.
Florida might normally be full of bath salt smoking face eaters, fake tri-breasted women (well, woman), wrong way drivers, meth-addict closet poopers, all sorts of public masturbators, and every other wrong thing you can think of. But not today. Today was not one of those days. All of the weird and stupid was put aside. Today we got right. I’m proud of you Florida, really proud.