Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down decisions on two LGBT equality cases, more than a hundred people gathered to celebrate at a rally in N. Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg June 26.
The rally, organized by Equality Florida, encouraged participants to bring signs in support of the decisions and all of the local major television news stations were invited to attend.
“What a great day for us, what a great day for equality,” said Katee Tulley, a member of Equality Florida’s board of directors. “We are here to celebrate the decision from Washington D.C. today, but we also realize we have work to get done here at home in Florida.”
LGBT people and straight allies alike attended the rally, and held up signs of support. One such sign said “Straight but not Narrow” while a lesbian couple held a sign indicating that they felt a little bit “more human today,” thanks to the rulings.
Also speaking at the rally, which was shortened due to threatening rain clouds, was St. Petersburg City Councilman Jeff Danner, who recapped the city’s progressive stances on equality issues.
“We were one of the first cities to give same-sex employees benefits, and we were one of the first in the county to offer a domestic partner registry,” Danner said. He also added that St. Petersburg is home to the state’s largest LGBT Pride celebration, St. Pete Pride, which, coincidentally, will take over Central Avenue on Saturday, June 29.
A similar rally was held outside the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse in Tampa later in the evening, where supporters listened to a handful of speakers and celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision.
Brian Winfield with Equality Florida also addressed the crowd in St. Pete, sharing that the organization plans to start a movement to repeal Amendment 2 in the state’s constitution. That amendment, passed by voters in 2008, defines marriage in Florida as a relationship as only between a man and a woman. It also prevents the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, such as in Massachusetts or California.
“Polls already show a majority, 54%, of Floridians support marriage equality,” Winfield said. “We believe we can build on that and move Florida forward.”
In the State of Florida, amendments must be approved by 61% of voters in order to become law.