Same-sex couple prepare to marry in SWFL

Author: Andrew Scheinthal
Published: Updated:

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Starting Tuesday, same-sex couples in all Florida counties will be able to tie the knot.

For the first time, the State of Florida will also recognize marriages for same-sex couples married in another state.

The Lee County courthouse expects to be busy Tuesday as couples line up to say ‘I do.’

“Nicki and I have been in a relationship for 27 years, and we never thought this day would come,” said Sharon Smith.

The legal saga is over. At midnight, Florida will become the next state to recognize same-sex marriages.

“Absolutely not. I never thought they would legalize it in the State of Florida,” said Smith.

As a result of that doubt, many couples left Florida years ago to get married. But when they came home to the Sunshine State, they quickly realized their marriage wasn’t recognized.

“The change is not seismic, but the change is significant,” said attorney Luis Insignares.

He says many couples hit serious roadblocks because Florida would not recognize their out-of-state marriage licenses.

“From their homestead exemption, to changing their names on their drivers licenses, on their voter identification cards…”

Insignares says that will no longer be the case come Tuesday.

“Things should go smoothly, I anticipate that there might be a few bumps in the road somewhere,” said Insignares.
“It’s exciting because it’s new, it’s new and different and it’s like, this could really happen in Fort Myers,” said Arlene Goldberg.

Arlene Goldberg strongly believes in equality. WINK News was there as she picked up 100 roses to pass out to every gay couple who applies for a marriage license tomorrow at the courthouse.

“Just a token of something beautiful to represent them being able to just do what should of been theirs all along,” said Goldberg.

Arlene and her partner, Carol, married in New York and were together for 47-years.
Carol died last March and her death certificate was the first in Florida to recognize a same-sex couple.
Soon after Arlene joined a lawsuit  challenging Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages.

“I think she would be proud of me for doing this because it is something that needed to be done,” said Goldberg.

Couples like Sharon and Nicky are now just grateful to be seen as equal.

“I am the most excited I have ever been in my entire life,” said Smith.

The Lee County Clerk’s Office will be open at 8 a.m. Tuesday and couples will be able to use the chapel inside.

WINK News also checked with Collier County. County officials say there is at least one couple who has already expressed interest in getting a marriage license Tuesday.

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