For now, he said, “There are so many unanswered questions about how all these things are going to fall into place. But the good thing is we have the ability to ask these things.”
“I think it’s a positive day for everybody in America. Because what it comes down to is families. And people who decide to create a family and people who have the ability to do so legally in one state is now recognized by the federal government.”
Hoch, 58, started his gay rights activism in Florida in 1979. In 1992, then-Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed him a judge of compensation claims, making him the first openly gay judge in Florida. He served a single term ending in 1996.
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“It’s amazing because the issue of gay marriage wasn’t even on my radar…”
1:29 p.m. | Legal advocate assess impact
Elizabeth F. Schwartz of Miami is president of the Miami Beach Bar Association and chairwoman of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association of Miami.
“This was a great day. These are two wonderful decisions that advance very important rights for same-sex couples. The Proposition 8 case will bring marriage back to California where it belongs. And the striking back of the core of DOMA, of section three of DOMA, will ensure that couples that are married in other states are granted federal benefits.
“I’m sorry to say that it means that we still have quite a bit to fight for here in the state of Florida. Because the DOMA decision does not affect the statewide marriage ban in states like Florida that has that. It means that we will have to redouble our efforts to bring marriage our efforts to bring marriage equality.
“This victory is a step in the right direction. That’s for sure. However, we still have a ban against marriage equality in the state of Florida. And this court decision doesn’t change that. It gives us great language to use in our legislation and litigation efforts to see marriage equality in the state of Florida. So it’s a tremendous step in the right direction. It’s a quantum leap in the right direction. We still have a lot of work to do. Couples from Florida should not run and get married and think that they will see any benefits from those marriages in the state of Florida.”
Many benefits are applied based on whether a marriage is valid where a couple lives, not based on the validity in the state where the couple married, Schwartz said.
“Those marriages are not anymore valid today than they were yesterday because those couples that went to new York to get married and then came back home to Florida or moved to Florida are not going to be afforded, at least as where we know now, are not going to be afforded the great majority of benefits that come with marriage…. If you live in Florida your marriage is not recognized as valid. There is still going to be some work to do, and it’s not entirely clear if we will be able to fix some of these inconsistencies.”
Still, she said, it was a big plus for same-sex marriage. “It’s a great day for equality and certainly the beginning of the end of official discrimination against lesbians and gay men, but we certainly have quite a ways to go to bring this victory to all states.”
Schwartz has spent her career working on legal issues involving gay and lesbian families. She’s been with her partner for 11 years, but hasn’t gotten married and advises same-sex Florida couples against getting married in other states.
“I advise against people getting married while there’s no benefit associated with it, and where there’s only potential pitfalls,” she said. For example, if a same-sex couple is married in another state and splits up, they can’t get divorced in Florida.
12:45 p.m. | Conservative pastor unhappy
Pastor Mark Boykin of Church of All Nations in Boca Raton said he’s distressed by the Supreme Court’s actions. Boykin’s church craws most of it’s parishioners from southern Palm Beach County and northern Broward.
“I’m not very sanguine,” he said.
“Probably the thing that’s most problematic is how the Supreme Court usurped the will of the people,” which he said was shown when the Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law and the voters of California passed Proposition 8, ending gay marriage in that state.
The Supreme Court, “with one fell swoop wiped that away. To me, that boggles the mind,” he said. “I think it’s a dangerous thing.”
He objects to the way the other side, people who support same-sex marriage, characterizes his side. “Hearing the language that the other side has used and they keep saying we’re discriminating and we’re bigots and we hate. Yet all of the language emanating from those people is very bellicose. ‘We’re fighting this fight.’ The most sensible approach for us is to believe in the system to stand for our rights and speak out because we do have rights.