Couples get up early to wed in Pinellas County

By : Steve Blanchard
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St. Petersburg – The Pinellas County Clerk of Courts office in St. Petersburg started off with a line the morning of Jan. 6 as same-sex couples applied and received marriage licenses. According to the Clerk’s office, 67 licenses were issued to same-sex couples and county employees officiated 24 weddings.

Andrea Defelippo and Erin Bell of St. Petersburg were the first same-sex couple to be married in south Pinellas County Jan. 6. The pair, who have been partners for four years, had originally planned to get married in October. But they decided to make it legal Jan. 6 for “historic reasons.”

“We want to be part of this,” said Bell. “My parents are actually lesbians and they had to go to Vermont to get married. They’ve been together for over 30 years. In fact, my mom is in the St. John’s County Courthouse today marrying people as a notary. So we really wanted to come and do this.”

The two women still plan to have their October ceremony, but now “it will be more of a vow renewal,” Bell said.

St. Petersburg couple David and Eric Barenz were also among the first to apply for the license and, initially the two didn’t plan to get married on Jan. 6.

“We thought about doing it on our anniversary, which is Feb. 1,” the couple said. “But we decided to do it today to be part of the historic event.”

Additional reporting by Aaron Alper.

Photos by Laurie Ross.

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