Palette Magazine

Q&A with Damian Pardo

The financial advisor, senior portfolio manager and head of The Pardo Group at Morgan Stanley offers some insight and practical advice on the hard-earned right to get married in the state of Florida and all that responsibilities that come with it.

January 6 was a historic day in Florida. How did you receive the news?

As a gay Miamian raised in Florida, I relished basking in the loving sun of equality on January 6, 2015. I vividly recalled the brutally stark attacks during Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign, the plague-like environment during the beginning of the AIDS crisis, the thousands of coffee table conversations helping to usher in basic and sporadic protections from discriminations AND FINALLY a significant deliverable of equality and justice — MARRIAGE.

Do you have any concerns or reservations?

Income inequality, infidelity, disparate health care needs or simply just growing apart might be among the most common obstacles on the road ahead. In a community where there is no tradition of divorce, no folklore of warnings, no locker room conversations or tips — pre-nups, titling assets, beneficiary designations — LGBT people would be wise to think through the potential outcomes of committing to pre-determined structures of marital dissolution, which many consider arcane and archaic. Ironically, while many straight people are re-evaluating the modern application and functionality of marriage as an institution, LGBT people have jumped in head first screaming, “we have arrived!” 

As a financial advisor and portfolio manager, what are your main concerns for those looking to get hitched?

Would they know that they may not be able to remove their spouse as a beneficiary on their 401K, annuity or life insurance? Or that after a certain number of years of marriage, they may be required to leave a percentage of their accumulated wealth or even their primary home to their spouse? Or that the inheritance they planned for their nephews may already be spoken for? Or perhaps they may end up having a lifetime of commitments as a consequence of a “plunge for equality.”

Marriage equality has been achieved in Florida but that’s certainly not the final destination. What do you feel is next on the to-do list?

Marriage equality is an historic and monumental step forward for the LGBT community.  I admittedly rode a wave of largely celebratory emotions. Yet, marriage in Florida is one “task completed,” where several “tasks” remain to be won. Employment discrimination, advocacy and services for the elderly LGBT population and eradicating religious based phobias still figure prominently as milestones on the horizon.

We have made monumental progress on our road to full equality. Even so, we must stoically assess where we are as individuals and as a community and forge ahead to secure our hard earned, bright future in the Sunshine State.