Same-sex couples legally wed in downtown Tampa

By : Steve Blanchard
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Tampa – Hillsborough County Clerk of Court Pat Frank got a swift response when she rhetorically asked the couples before them how long they’d been waiting for this day to come. Couples shouted numbers, ranging from three years to forty-plus.

“Then you’ve waited long enough, which is why I waived the three-day waiting period,” Frank said on a microphone set up in at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square in downtown Tampa.

Nearly 50 couples gathered to exchange vows and Frank shared that while she wasn’t a judge, she was wearing her late husband’s robe to honor him and his career of service as a judge and his devotion to equality. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance—with an emphasis on “Justice for all”—from the crowd, Frank told the couples to determine who would act as “Spouse One” and who would act as Spouse Two” for the purposes of the ceremony.

“I need your cooperation with this,” Frank said, before addressing the two sole protestors who were shouting Biblical references before the crowd gathered. “And I ask those who are freely expressing their first amendment rights to disagree to remain respectfully silent during the ceremony.”

Frank wasn’t the only representative of Hillsborough County on hand. Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and his husband, Tampa Police Officer Gil Sainz were in attendance, as was Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, who posed for photos with jubilant couples.

Also on cite were representatives from Whole Foods, who handed out celebratory cupcakes to anyone who wanted one. Clerk’s Office employees collected signatures afterward to make the marriages legal and offered white cookies with a red heart design to the newlyweds.

In all, Hillsborough County issued 160 marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Jan. 6. Of those, 106 were married either in the clerk’s office or in the mass ceremony in the park.

Photos by Vinny D’Ippolito.

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