With same-sex marriage on the brink of being legalized in Florida or getting forever mired in litigation, advocates and gay rights groups have been using news releases and the media to call on Gov. Rick Scott to lift the ban.
But now one same-sex couple is going directly to the governor in the form of a heartfelt letter pleading for him to meet with them and others like them, as well as their families, to hear their stories.
The letter, which has been sent to Scott's office, was penned by Terry and Sharon Kant-Raunch, but they're backed by hundreds of couples requesting the meeting.
"We have been in a committed and loving relationship for more than 31 years, facing our joys and challenges together," part of the letter reads. "Unfortunately, we have each had serious health issues, including advanced cancers. In addition to the stress of medical care, we worry about what would happen to our family if one of us were to pass away."
The letter also goes on to remind Scott that these couples are treated as outcasts in their own home state simply because of whom they fall in love with and spend the rest of days building a life together.
But the letter also shares practicalities to why it's important the ban be lifted: simple human dignity everyone deserves.
"Despite our long-standing commitment to each other, we are currently treated like strangers by Florida's government and prohibited from having the opportunity to get married," it goes on to say. "Without marriage, we worry about our lack of protections as we age, including social security benefits, and confidence we will be able to make critical decisions regarding health care for each other. We know that our family is no different from many other Florida families, but we're singled out and excluded from equal treatment under the law just because of who we fell in love with."
The letter is just one of hundreds that have been sent to Scott in recent days, following the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to reject same-sex marriage appeals in several states.
Terry and Sharon Kant-Raunch were also part of the group of same-sex couples that hand-delivered 7,000 petitions to Pam Bondi's office in Tallahassee back in July. Those petitions, signed by Floridians, asked the attorney general to "stop wasting taxpayer resources defending the state's discriminatory exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage."
In their letter, Terry and Sharon tell Scott they can drive to Tallahassee again to meet with him.
"Please grant us the privilege of sitting down and discussing this important issue with you," they say to the governor. "We'd like to share our family's story of love and commitment, and how our family is affected every day by our inability to marry."
No word yet from Scott's office on whether he'll accept the invitation.
"We hope that Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi will hear these pleas," Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, said in a statement. "Open their hearts up to the challenges these families unnecessarily face, and swiftly drop their appeals of the marriage rulings."
You can read the full letter below:
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