Same-Sex Couples Advocate for Marriage Rights - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Same-Sex Couples Advocate for Marriage Rights

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Bay County, Fla. -

Valentine's Day can be a very happy day for those who are in love and it can be especially memorable, if you marry your best friend. But what if you weren't given the chance?

Jack Harvey and Al Burgermeister have been in a committed relationship for more than 23 years. They showed up to the Bay County Courthouse to try to wed in their home state of Florida.

However, since Florida Statute (741.212) prohibits same sex marriages, the clerks had to turn them away. "The defensive marriage law is not giving any additional rights to anyone; it's only taking away rights from people like us," Harvey argued.

Ten states and the District of Columbia now recognize the right of same gender couples to marry; Florida isn't one of them and to Bob McNeal, that's offensive. "This is our home of record; this is where we live 365 days a year. You know they love our taxes but they don't want to give us anything else."

McNeal and his partner, Rick Mart also attempted to marry and were denied a marriage license, and although the couples weren't surprised, they wanted to bring awareness to the issue.

With the support of several community groups they cited that legal documents should not be conditional. "What happened to the separation of church and state?" Burgermeister said.