Chad Arrington and Misty Hall exchanged their marital vows Sept. 15. The couple both breathed a sigh of relief after they exchanged wedding rings. They were officially man and wife.
But their marriage license will not refer to them as such – or as bride and groom.
That’s because Florida’s marriage license and certificate applications have changed to include the gender-neutral term “spouse” rather than “bride” and “groom.” The change officially recognizes same-sex couples on state marriage documents.
“Honestly, we didn’t even know about it,” Arrington said. “We’re just relieved to be married.”
The Bureau of Vital Statistics, under the Florida Department of Health, sent the new marriage forms to Clerk of Courts around Florida.
The change is another stepping stone for the LGBT community in its path toward equality, said LB Hannahs, director of LGBT Affairs at the University of Florida.
Florida legalized same-sex marriage Jan. 6. It became a federal law after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June.
Even though same-sex marriage was legalized, official and legal documents didn’t recognize gender differences between same-sex and heterosexual marriage, Hannahs said.
“There were some couples who felt the documents didn’t reflect their identity on who they were because of the terms ‘bride’ and ‘groom,’” Hannahs said.
However, Hannahs said they don’t expect couples to go rushing to the courthouse despite the change. Most couples are more concerned with being able to sign the form than with any title.
The LGBT community faces other issues, though, Hannahs said.
Three married same-sex couples, along with LGBT organization Equality Florida, sued the state of Florida in August after the parents couldn’t be listed on their newborn’s birth certificate.
“We still have a lot of problems,” Hannahs said. “Same-sex marriage is just one of the many barriers that we have to overcome.”