After Gay Marriage Legal, Florida Couples Await Benefits

Jan 6, 2015

Lindsay Myers (left) and wife Sarah Humlie held a wedding celebration in Florida in 2013 after their 2012 Washington, D.C., marriage. They were one of 11 couples suing to have their unions recognized in Florida.
Credit Lindsay Myers

As of today, gay couples can legally marry in Florida. That’s because more than a dozen same-sex couples sued to get the same benefits as straight couples. WJCT talked with one of the women who filed the historic suit.

    

Lindsay Myers and her wife Sarah Humlie live in Pensacola. They got married in Washington, D.C., two years ago, but when Lindsay tried to add Sarah to her university employee health insurance, no luck. That’s when they decided to join a federal lawsuit by the ACLU. At the time, the healthy, 20-something spouses wanted the benefits but didn’t think they were actually that big of deal. Then, Sarah got cancer.

“We will have tens of thousands of dollars of medical costs that we would not have had otherwise had, and that’s huge," Myers says, "and there’s tons of couples that are in the same or similar circumstances.”

With their marriage now official in their home state after federal judge Robert Hinkle ruled in the couples' favor, Myers says she’s waiting for bureaucracy to catch up. She says as of this afternoon, the state benefits office didn’t have an answer for exactly when her wife will be added to her plan. And an extra month could mean hundreds of dollars more out of pocket.

Despite the frustration, Myers says today is an overwhelmingly positive day as she watches many of her friends get married for the first time. And she credits those who've come before her for making it possible.

"To celebrate with people who are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, who've been fighting this fight longer than I have been alive, who have come out when it was much harder to do so, to me, being able to celebrate with those people has just been an incredible experience," she says. 

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 U.S. states, mostly because of rulings like Judge Hinkle's. However, a legal precedent conflict exists because a federal judge in the Sixth Circuit upheld states' rights to decide how to define marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to resolve the issue at its conference this Friday.