If you plan to be at the Duval County Clerk of Courts office Tuesday morning, expect to see a crowd.
Expect an even bigger crowd if you’re at Hemming Park on Saturday.
That’s the prediction of Carrington “Rusty” Mead, attorney and LGBT rights advocate, based on U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s clarification that his order based on a case in Washington County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples applies to all 67 counties in Florida.
Kenneth Kent, executive director of Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, issued a statement Friday urging the state’s clerks to follow Hinkle’s order.
Mead said as many as 50 same-sex couples may be at the clerk’s office to apply for marriage licenses when it opens Tuesday morning.
The daylong wedding event Saturday was scheduled to allow for the state-mandated three-day waiting period between the time a marriage license is issued and when a wedding may be performed. About 150 couples are planning to be married in the park.
“It’s going to be a big, gay wedding. No sad people allowed,” Mead said. “Anyone with a valid marriage license will be married that day.”
Mead, who also is a notary public, plans to perform a marriage ceremony Tuesday on the courthouse lawn since Duval County Clerk Ronnie Fussell said his office will no long perform those ceremonies.
Fussell said last week he and his four employees who conduct the ceremonies were not comfortable performing them for same-sex couples. And, he said, the time it took to perform those ceremonies could be used to handle duties that are required by the office.
The couple being married Tuesday, Tami Voisard and Tara Day, completed the Florida pre-marital course, which makes them exempt from the three-day waiting period. They will apply for their license Tuesday morning.
Voisard, 50, and Day, 41, have lived together since 2008 and were joined in a civil union in 2011. Day gave birth to a son, Colton James Day, in February. He will accompany his parents to the courthouse Tuesday to obtain the license and will be part of the ceremony later that day.
“He’ll be wearing his T-shirt that says ‘I love my mommies,’” said Voisard.
Being able to be married in the state where they live and have the marriage legally recognized is something the couple has looked forward to for years.
“I never thought I’d see it happening. We’ve been knocked down so many times. It has been a long time coming,” said Voisard.
Despite Florida voters banning gay marriage in a 2008 referendum, the couple held onto their belief they were entitled to be legally married and to enjoy the rights afforded to other married couples, such as access to a spouse’s health insurance and Social Security survivor’s benefits.
“We knew it’s our right. Everybody should be allowed to marry who they want to marry,” Voisard said.
Mead said the site for Voisard’s and Day’s ceremony was chosen for its proximity to the clerk’s office.
“We’re doing it in front of the courthouse so Mr. Fussell can watch out his window if he wants to,” she said. “We’ll help Mr. Fussell get comfortable (with same-sex marriage).”
After the ceremony Tuesday, Voisard said she, Day and their son plan to eat lunch Downtown and then go home.
“We are a normal family,” she said. “We’ll come home and continue our lives. It won’t change the way we are, but it will be beneficial to be legally married.”