Osceola County marries first same-sex couples in Central Florida

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Kissimmee – A line formed outside of Osceola County Courthouse starting at 10 p.m. Jan. 5 as the county prepared to open its doors and issue 28 same-sex couples marriage licenses at midnight, making them the first same-sex couples legally married in Central Florida.

More than 100 people gathered to celebrate and support their family and friends. Among those getting married were Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb and her long-time partner Patti Daughtery. They were the first couple to be wed in Central Florida with U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson as their ring bearer.

“It’s an amazing honor,” said Grayson. “Not a personal honor, it’s an honor for us as human beings. It’s an honor for the human race. We now have reached the point where we no longer judge people, at least in this instance, by how they look or where they’re from or who they love. It’s remarkable to think that we’ve come this far this fast and to come this far at all. This is the dead end for prejudice in America. It was an awful bitter fight at the end, but here we are. It’s happened—same-sex marriages have come to Central Florida and the world has changed for the better.”

There was huge analog clock at the front of the room that Osceola County Clerk Armando Ramirez used to countdown till it officially was midnight on Jan. 6. Grieb and Daughtery married at 12:01 a.m. with family, friends and media present.

Clerk Ramirez congratulated all the newlyweds and said he and his staff would not leave until they saw all 28 couples issued licenses and wed. He said in a speech prior to the wedding ceremony he was happy to finally see a hateful law gone and that all people could be treated equally and with respect.

The Orlando Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were also there in full force, waiting outside the room where couples were getting married to shower the newlyweds with congrats, bubbles and a round of applause and cheers.

Lake County residents Tarina and Tracy Golly were among the couples excited to finally tie the knot and make it official. The couple has been together for seven and half years.

“Today is a moment in history and for us to be a part of that, it’s good, and we’re grateful for that to be able to be with everybody else and one of the first few,” Tarina said.

They have a honeymoon planned at Legacy Resorts and also plan to party it up at The Hammered Lamb’s wedding celebration Jan. 6.

But not everyone was so happy to see the day that marriage equality finally made its way to the Sunshine State. There were a group of protestors outside waving signs that read “Marriage= 1 Man + 1 Woman” with some in Spanish stating “Dios dice: Varon y hembra se casaran,” which roughly translates to “God says: Man and woman should marry.”

Of the 28 couples who received marriage licenses, 19 had ceremonies at the courthouse. The courthouse stayed open to just after 2 a.m., allowing for all the couples who wished to have a ceremony to do so.

Osceola County Courthouse was the only place in Central Florida to open up at midnight when U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s stay officially expired.

Photos taken by Patrick O’Connor

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