KEY WEST, Fla. — Several hundred people celebrated in Key West Friday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide.
Celebrants included Key Westers Aaron Huntsman and Lee Jones, whose lawsuit helped pave the way for marriage equality in Florida, and whose Jan. 6 marriage was the Florida Keys’ first legal same-sex wedding.
Revelers carrying rainbow flags, the symbol of LGBT unity, cheered and hugged as community leaders addressed a lively block party on the island’s Duval Street. One group displayed a banner with Key West’s official “One Human Family” motto, proclaiming universal equality, while others waved a circular rainbow flag 25 feet in diameter.
“We’re so happy and we’re so proud of all the plaintiffs across the United States that have been fighting for this, and the lawyers and the teams,” said Huntsman after speaking to the assembled crowd. “Over 40 years of cases and we finally have the freedom to marry across the United States.”
The ruling is particularly meaningful for Huntsman and Jones, who tied the knot early Jan. 6, 2015, just moments after Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage expired.
“We were the first couple to get a ruling overturning the ban (in Florida) on same-sex marriage; we were the first couple to be actually married here in Monroe County, in Key West — and we are so happy that everybody has the freedom to marry across the United States now,” said Huntsman as Jones stood beside him Friday, seemingly near tears.
The celebration’s exuberance reflected the longstanding embrace of diversity in Key West, which is internationally known as a leading LGBT vacation destination.
The city elected an openly gay mayor in 1983, and many other high-profile elected and appointed civic positions have been and are held by gays. Key West and the surrounding Monroe County adopted the “One Human Family” motto in 2000, proclaiming equality and acceptance for everyone.