Community Conversations

What does legalizing same-sex marriage mean to you and to your family?


We asked the following question on this week: What does legalizing same-sex marriage in Florida mean to you and to your family? Thanks for all of your responses. Below are some of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network at, and check back next week for another conversation.

“It means that my wife and I, who were married three years ago in Connecticut and have been in a loving relationship for eight years will finally be recognized as equal to our co-workers and neighbors. It means that we will finally be able to qualify for spousal benefits and not fear for our rights to make decisions for one another if something were to happen. It is an affirmation to the fact that we are all equals in this state regardless of who we love. It is a validation of our love.”

Corinne Smith, Miami Beach


“To me, a lot. I’m in the wedding business, so I’m excited about the prospects. And equality, of course. For family, I have a 21-year-old son who is gay.”

James Santoli, Homestead


“I believe in living what we want our children to learn. It would mean that we teach them respect, love and concern for everyone. It is an issue of civil and human rights. It does not affect me personally, but since I want to live in a society where we take care of one another, I am full of joy over this normalization. Dividing us into ‘us and them’ is detrimental to that very idea.”

Gabriele Fiorentino, Miami


“It has no direct bearing on my family, but I have friends who are gay. What people do behind closed doors is up to them. I believe in the marriages because many of them have spent a lifetime together and have no way to protect their assets. They build their lives together and when one of them dies, their family goes in and swoops it all up and their partner is left with nothing.”

Joan Fernandez, Hialeah


“It means my sister and her wife can feel safe to move back to Miami without fear that their status as a legally married couple will be ignored by small-minded people in positions of authority.”

Jose Gomez, Miami


“As a gay man marriage equality is just one more step forward in our quest for equal protection under law. I would point out that we can still be fired, denied employment and even housing simply for being LGBT citizens. We have much work still to be done. I would take this opportunity to state, without reservation, that same-sex marriage has no effect whatsoever on anyone other than those thus wed. The majority of Floridians won’t have their lives altered in any way.”

David Hart, Miami Beach


“Neither issue is a priority, much less a direct concern, other than a clear sign of the continuing moral decay of western civilization and its imminent collapse.”

Kent Bonde, Miami Shores


“The most important piece of legislation that has had a profound personal and emotional impact on my life. I thought this was something that was not my right as a gay man in a committed relationship. Things started changing as did my feelings and then I felt I deserve marriage equality as anyone else. My husband and I have been together 25 years and got married in NYC.”

Dennis Leyva, Miami Shores


“It means nothing to me. I will always continue to keep my family prayed up, because this nation is going on a downward spiral. And I believe it’s only going to get worse.”

Harford Howell, Miami


“It means that finally Florida has moved into the 21st century by providing equality under the law and allowing people to marry the ones they love. While this does not directly impact me and my family, it does impact many of our friends, and I am so happy to see them have the same opportunity for a loving, legal relationship.”

Merry Bodner, Miami


“That we all deserve to be treated equally. I have been in this fight since the sad days of Anita Bryant. This is a great day for the people. No one should be ashamed of who they are and whom they want to love.”

Betsy Skipp, Miami


“We all have a right to happiness as we choose to live it. All adults should have the same rights regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation. They should also have the right to adopt or raise their own children like anyone else. The law is not forcing religious organizations to wed gay couples against their will.”

Kirsten Llamas, Pinecrest


“The earth didn’t shake when same-sex marriage became a reality in Florida. My long-term marriage (husband/wife) didn’t disintegrate because gay people can now marry. My family and I are just surprised that our government finally gave up pursuing discrimination against an entire class of people.”

Sharyn Zimmerman, Pembroke Pines


“It means that we will be attending more weddings should gay or lesbian family members and friends decide to take the plunge into wedded bliss. Other than that, we are not affected because we do not have prejudicial views concerning family members and friends who identify as gay or lesbian. We don’t think of them as being any sort of label; they are loved, respected and cherished for their heart and soul, regardless of their sexual preference.”

Elizabeth Gonzalez, Miami


“It is good news for those of our friends and family who happen to be gay. For their sake, we are happy.”

Gerald Kratz, Miami


“Finally, finally. We spent a lot of legal dollars. A lot of legal dollars to gain just a few of the legal protections marriage has. One sibling has been married three times during the length of our relationship. Our nieces and nephews, who are now young adults, cannot remember a time we were not together, yet we still had to explain and defend and protect. ... Now we are married. No halfways. No civil domestic blah blahs. We are married. Finally.”

Susan Hargreaves, Jupiter


“It means that my husband and I can feel confident enough to begin vacationing in Florida again. I live in New York, which is already an Equality State, but we don’t want to vacation in a state that does not respect and protect our legal marriage rights. We’ve always loved vacationing in Florida and now we can again!”

Wayne Anderson, New York