Jeff and Todd Delmay, the second same-sex couple married in Florida, will attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, guests of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.
The Delmays were married by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel as part of a dual ceremony on Jan. 5, just after the judge ordered that same-sex couples could legally wed as part of a landmark ruling in Florida.
“It’s been so exciting in the last two weeks to see thousands of couples who’ve gone out and are professing their love and commitment to each other by getting married, getting their marriage licenses, not to mention the untold thousands of couples who had gone out of state and gotten married and now finally their home state recognizes their marriage as valid and recognizes their families as having the same values as any other family,” Todd Delmay said Tuesday morning in a news conference from Washington, D.C.
At the news conference, Wasserman Schultz said she is a longtime champion of same-sex marriage.
“For me, as a Jewish mother, I have to tell you, that is a big part of why I asked the Delmays to join me as my guests at the State of the Union,” the congresswoman said. “Because as someone who is about to celebrate my 24th year of marriage and whose parents are celebrating their 50th year of marriage in two weeks, really the union between two people and the ability to raise a family and to model the values that we all embrace is just so incredibly special and important. And thank God we have an opportunity now to do that in our home state of Florida.”
Karla Arguello and Catherina Pareto of Miami, also plaintiffs in the Miami-Dade right-to-marry lawsuit, were the first same-sex couple wed in Florida. Arguello, Pareto and the Delmays were among six couples and Equality Florida Institute who in 2014 sued Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin, aiming to overturn Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay marriage ban.
The Delmays met a dozen years ago at a party at the Miami hotel where Jeff worked. Todd was a guest.
“There was a connection right away,” Jeff Delmay, 36, told the Miami Herald after they married earlier this month.
For years, the Hollywood couple hoped they could get married, but didn’t want to leave South Florida to do so.
“This is where we live,” Todd Delmay, 43, told the Herald. He is originally from Michigan.
About the same time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 that the federal government must recognize legally performed same-sex marriages, the Delmays became involved in Florida’s right-to-marry cause.
“When we got involved, part of it was we were encouraged to tell our story. When people were interested in our story, which we thought was pretty ordinary, you know: A couple of guys who met, fell in love and wanted to get married and raise a family,” Todd Delmay said during Tuesday’s news conference.
“As we’ve heard these other family stories, we know we’re not the only story,” he said. “Making it very personal and telling stories has been part of how we win these kinds of issues. The other part of that is having very strong advocates and allies, like the president and certainly Debbie, who have done incredible things in helping to voice the concerns of every constituency and making sure that every minority has a voice in Congress.”
For more about Florida politics, read the Miami Herald’s Naked Politics blog.