Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 010616 Contents 20 • 01.06.2016
The first LGBT couples to get married
in the state are celebrating their first
Same-sex marriage became legal in Miami-
Dade County on January 5, with the rest of the
state following on January 6.
In the last year, they've had children, bought
homes and in many cases, been surprised that
something so extraordinary can lead to a life so
ordinary. And where else to begin a look back
at Florida's first year of same-sex marriage
than with the first couple married in the state?
Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello
"It's been a banner year for us," said Cathy
Pareto, who married Karla Arguello just after
noon Jan. 5 in a Miami-Dade courtroom. "Since
we got married, we had a big church wedding,
which was really special. And in August, we
welcomed our twins, who are now four months
Pareto and Arguello spent months in the
spotlight as one of six couples involved in a
lawsuit in Miami-Dade County to overturn
the state's gay marriage ban. But few knew
Arguello was expecting.
"When the whole court case took place, we
were pregnant — very, very quietly pregnant,"
In a state as large as Florida, it normally
would be difficult to pick out which couple were
married first after the ban against gay marriage
fell. But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel
lifted the ban a day earlier than the rest of the
state. And immediately after her decision, she
presided over Pareto and Arguello's wedding.
The big church wedding came a few months
later, giving friends and family the opportunity
to share the moment.
"We've been together 16 years," Pareto
said. "We felt married already, but something
definitely shifted when things became legal for
us. There was something very reassuring about
being recognized as a family unit."
Todd and Jeff Delmay
"When you participate in something as
historic as we did, you really get excited about
the idea that one or two voices can make a
difference," said Todd Delmay. He and his
partner Jeff Delmay followed Pareto and
Arguello in getting married the day the ban fell
in Miami-Dade County, which makes them the
first gay men married in the state.
The Hollywood residents later attended
last year's State of the Union speech at the
invitation of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman
Schultz, D-Weston. But since then, Todd
reports feeling eerily normal.
"We had an experience with a bank recently.
We went to open a new account at the bank,
and when I said, 'This is my husband,' the
banker never batted an eye," Delmay said.
"When you fight for equality, you get this very
mundane everyday experience and you have
to remind yourself that it's an extraordinary
experience that made it happen."
After the impulse wedding last year, the
Delmays are finally having a reception with
friends and family this Jan. 16, just in time to
celebrate their anniversary.
"We wanted to set an example for our son.
He's sort of understanding it now that we're
married and having this celebration," Delmay
said. "It's an exciting time, with our lives
changing and business growing. We're just like
everybody else now."
Vanessa and Melanie Alenier
For Vanessa and Melanie Alenier, that sense
of "What's next?" that haunts Todd Delmay
hangs even heavier in the air.
Prior to being part of the Miami-Dade gay
marriage lawsuit with Pareto and Arguello, the
Aleniers were plaintiffs in one of two lawsuits
fighting Florida's gay adoption ban. Between
trying to adopt their son and trying to get
married, the Hollywood couple have spent
about half of their 10 years together litigating.
"It's great not to be in the spotlight," Vanessa
said. "For the first three to six months, when I
would say 'wife,' I'd be like, 'whoa.'"
For their one-year anniversary, the Aleniers
plan to go to dinner. They've saved a slice of
wedding cake to eat. Their wedding album
finally arrived after a long delay. And they have
all the usual hoops to jump through that come
with getting married.
"Once we got married, I was able to go
on [Vanessa's] company insurance policy,"
"When they call me and ask about benefits
they're also asking about my wife," Vanessa
said. "There's this warm, incredible feeling
when the insurance company says, 'And your
wife, Melanie Alenier, anything to change
"For us, it was so exciting to be able to go on
insurance," Melanie said.
Irene and Dana Murphy
While the Delmays and the Aleniers had
changed their names before the ban on same-
sex marriage ending, it was only after they got
married that Irene Kalinowski became Irene
Murphy. The two had had a marriage ceremony
in 2008, one not recognized by the state, but
they recoiled at the idea of getting married
in another state only to have their marriage
ignored in their home state.
When they came to a courthouse in Delray
Beach on Jan. 6, they had planned to have a
friend who is a notary marry them. They'd just
get the marriage license and be on their way.
"We just kind of got caught up in the
celebration. It didn't seem right to wait at
that point," Irene Murphy said. "We've been
together 16 years, we've been married since
2008, so Florida's very late to our party.
However, we're very glad they showed up."
The Jupiter couple intend to keep celebrating
their anniversary on Oct. 11, the date of their
unrecognized 2008 marriage ceremony, which
took place in Florida. But they have more cause
"We just purchased a home together,"
Murphy said. "On one of the forms my title
agent sent to me, it asks for husband and wife.
So, I took the opportunity to share with her
that the form was outdated and needed to be
updated and she happily complied. So I feel like
we got to make a little bit of a change for other
couples purchasing a home, at least with that
The marriage has also meant that all the
complicated paperwork that she and Dana
Murphy had to have previously — the health
care proxy, the power of attorney — is a thing
of the past.
"Now, I don't have to worry about whether
or not our relationship is going to be recognized
legally," Murphy said. "I've been able to update
all my medical records to reflect that I'm
married and I can't tell you how refreshing it
is to fill out any form since Jan. 6 and check the
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