South Florida gays await same-sex marriage hearings

US Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in 2 cases this week

By Terrell Forney - Reporter

WILTON MANORS, Fla. - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases regarding same-sex marriage this week, and gays and lesbians in South Florida are awaiting the results.

Angela Schukei, who works at Rosie's Restaurant & Bar in Wilton Manors, wants the right to legally marry her longtime girlfriend.

"We went to the courts and got domestically registered so it was legal in some respects but it wasn't legally recognized by the state," she said. "If you want to go with the basic belief with what God set forth for us, is that he loves all his children."

In Florida, same-sex marriages and civil unions are banned but domestic partnerships are allowed. Thirty other states have passed laws that specifically define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Related: Key questions in same-sex marriage debate

"People have a right to choose," said Deerfield Beach resident Debbie O'Brien.

O'Brien, 59, hopes the Supreme Courts decisions, expected in June, will help protect her partner's rights.

"People are afraid, they don't understand," said O'Brien. "I had an accident and my family was the only one they let into the ICU. She had no rights."

The Supreme Court is hearing two cases: a review of California's Proposition 8, an amendment passed by voters in 2008 which banned gay marriage, and the "Defense of Marriage Act," legislation first passed by the Clinton administration in 1996 which prevents gay couple from receiving federal benefits, including members of the military.

Clinton has since said his views have evolved and the Obama administration has made moves to not pursue the law. Opponents of the act believe couples gay or straight should collect equal federal benefits.

Tickets to the Supreme Court hearing are free but some people are charging as much as $6,000 to hold a place in line. Some people have been waiting in the cold since Thursday.

Meanwhile, GOP strategist Karl Rove says he can imagine a Republican candidate in the next presidential campaign supporting gay marriage.

The statement from the former adviser to President George W. Bush appears to acknowledge that opposition to gay marriage has waned in some conservative circles.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced last week that he now supports gay marriage after learning one of his sons was gay.

Rove's comment was part of a panel discussion on ABC's "This Week." He did not elaborate.

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