Gay Weddings Could Bring Lots of Business to Lake Worth if Legal, Commissioner Says

Andy Amoroso, the first openly gay city commissioner in Palm Beach County, is leading the charge for a gay marriage demonstration this coming weekend.

But the angle Amoroso is taking is unique.

Instead of the usual call for gay rights, the city commish and countless others will try to reason with Tallahassee where it seems to matter most: the economy.

Amoroso, who serves Lake Worth, has put together the rally with local advocates as well as political representatives who are sponsoring or endorsing the demonstration.

The demonstration, which will be held Sunday on the steps of Lake Worth City Hall, located at 7 N. Dixie Highway, won't just be a political message about same-sex marriage rights. It'll also be one that comes with the message that marriage equality makes economic sense.

"First off," Amoroso tells New Times, "it's really to tell Tallahassee it's not OK that gay couples can't get married in Florida. But it's also about the local economy."

Amoroso, who is also a business owner -- he owns Studio 205, an LGBT store, in downtown Lake Worth -- knows that gay marriages can bring in millions.

Florida is a marriage destination, he says.

"On a financial level, people are spending millions of dollars to get married," Amoroso explains. "But because of Florida's laws, gay and lesbian couples are being forced to fly to other destinations to get married."

Lake Worth, specifically, boasts great beaches and a new seaside banquet facility, Amoroso says. All great places to hold a big, fabulous gay wedding with all the trimmings.

The demonstration, which will kick off at 2 p.m. Sunday, will offer folks poster boards so they can make signs. Amoroso is asking for married gay and lesbian couples who come to the rally to make signs showing where they got married and how much they ended up spending for their out-of-state weddings.

Of course, the demonstration will go into the deeper issue of actual rights. For Amoroso, it's a personal one -- not just because he's gay but also because he's seen how Florida's same-sex marriage stance can damage people.

Amoroso's sister, who is also gay, has worked for more than 20 years for the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office. She and her partner had to fly to Canada to get married because they couldn't legally marry in Florida. This means she can't leave her pension to her partner because of the state's antigay marriage stance.

While there is no official Facebook page for the demonstration, Amoroso says it has garnered the attention of representatives and congressmen. Sen. Bill Nelson has endorsed the demonstration, as have Sens. Jeff Clemens and Patrick Murphy. Congressman Ted Deutsch is also among those who have endorsed the rally.

The demonstration is also sponsored by the City of Lake Worth Mayor & Commissioners, Lake Worth Downtown Cultural Alliance, and the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, among others.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph