Same-sex couples around Tampa Bay line up to get married: Marian Goodman, 59, and Margena Hinely, Clearwater
Technically, Marian Goodman, 59, and Margena Hinely, 57, of Clearwater were second in line at the Clearwater branch of the Pinellas County clerk's office Tuesday, right behind a couple that wanted to pick up a license for a ceremony in a few weeks.
But Vanessa Lambert, 42, of Largo, thought Goodman and Hinely should go first because they were getting married today. It was significant.
Goodman and Hinely have been together 28 years and 74 days -- pretty much ever
since they first met in 1986 at a transportation committee meeting of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce board. They dated for about a year, bonding over their experiences living in Tallahassee and south Georgia, before moving in together and starting a hotel management company, Sky Hospitality.
"It's important to not be a second-class citizen," Goodman said. "It feels good to know that if something happens... "
Goodman, usually resilient in emotional situations, cried as she repeated her vows to Hinely in a tiny, private room connected to the records department, a heart-shaped wreath of flowers on the wall behind them. They traded rings, the same ones they first exchanged in a Hyde Park parking lot 10 years ago. There to watch were their "second parents" from Anona United Methodist Church in Largo, Bette and Marvin Ivey. "They are our special girls," Bette Ivey said.
After their ceremony, a group of snowbirds calling themselves Canadian cheerleaders burst into applause, making them stand in front of an equality flag for photos. George Olds and Ian Taylor, married in Canada in 2004, said it's nice not to "leave our equal rights at the door" when they move to their home in unincorporated Clearwater for the winter now.
"People are going to ask you if it feels different," Taylor told the newlyweds. "You betcha it feels different."
The clerk's office opened at 8 a.m., with three all-women couples ready to go inside.
Vickie Tanner, 57, and Ginger Chapman, 58, hoped to be first, taking the day off of their jobs at Walmart to make sure they did were married after being married 28 years. They ended up being second to exchange rings and vows, but "the fact that we were here and we are able to do it counts the most," Tanner said.
After years of telling Chapman she didn't want to get married, Tanner surprised Chapman with a proposal at Georgie's Alibi in St. Petersburg after dancing to their favorite song, John Legend's "All of Me." For the ceremony Tanner wore a deep purple dress from Macy's with rhinestone-studded shoulders and Chapman wore a suit and the same purple tie she wore for a 1989 New Year's Eve party with Tanner.
They plan to return to Georgie's on Saturday to celebrate their new married life with friends and their favorite band, Karmic Tattoo.
"You're mine now," Chapman told her.
Three more couples were married despite not having taken the required premarital counseling course or waiting three days from applying for the license. Circuit Judge Patricia Ann Muscarella issued waivers to those couples, all partners for more than a decade.
By 11 a.m., a manager relieved extra staff brought in to man tables with new forms for same-sex couples. The office expected a rush but ended up marrying four couples and providing licenses to three more.
-- Katie Sanders, Times Staff Writer