“That 15 minutes of fame was pretty special.”
Soon, the Miami History Museum reached out to the Delmays, and they donated their wedding suits to the museum’s permanent display, along with the dresses of the lesbian couple who were also married that day.
“But apparently our suits have a life of their own and they go on tour and they go to other museums,” noted Jeff. “It’s just the craziest thing! When we went a year later to see them on display — the woman there said ‘just don’t touch the artifacts!’ Because they’re now artifacts!”
Becoming greater advocates for the gay community and marriage equality was a natural outcome of events for the couple.
“We’ve always been involved in the community,” explained Jeff. “But I don’t know that we’d ever thought about being that active, that sort of forward-facing.”
“I was doing a fair amount of volunteering with the National LGBTQ Task Force and other groups, getting to know people that are involved,” Todd continued. “And I think that’s one of the main reasons why we were originally approached, because they knew us, they knew our story. They knew that we had a son, and having a diverse lawsuit, a diverse plaintiff team was important. The six couples were very demographically mixed. But for sure that whole experience pushed us into even more activism. And, it sort of snowballed.”
“First, of course, we wanted to get married. And more important, we started to think about the example you set for your kids. When there’s something wrong and you have an opportunity, you need to speak up.”
“We learned a lot through the experience. We would travel around the state and we’d meet these couples who’ve been together for decades, and they oftentimes had relationships that were very closeted. We never talked about marriage, we never thought it would happen in our lives, let alone couples who were 30 and 40 years older than us. So it was wonderful to be able to speak up for them too.”
“And now, five years later, I look at young kids who are coming out with such courage at much younger ages, and the ability and the freedom that they have to be able to be who they are, to be with the person that they love and know they’re going to be able to marry someday, no matter who that person is. That’s where you say, wow, it really does change the world when you are able to be a part of something like that.”
“One of the main arguments in marriage equality, and the lawsuit,” recalled Jeff, “is that, if you deny gay couples the right to get married, that also can prohibit them from having that family bond, that family unit, that ‘official-ness’ of a marriage that straight couples get, well, you’re denying families. So for us, having a son, already being a family and sort of leading the way in the state has been amazing. Because then you see people that are coming up behind us, and they say oh, we can get married now, we can have children if we want. And so that’s another great thing, allowing people to build a family unit was one of the biggest side effects.”
Today, the Delmay’s activism is most apparent locally with the formation of The Hollywood LGBTQ+ Council, where Todd is serving as the first president. The couple recently traveled to Dallas where Todd represented the Council at the National LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Conference, to increase engagement with this national organization to help further LGBTQ issues at the local level.
Moving beyond bringing gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses to the city, the Council gave its own meanings to the letters LGBTQ — Life, Government, Business, Transformation and Quality of Life — and were thrilled to have double the anticipated attendance at its inaugugural event last year.
But as progressive a city Hollywood may seem, there is still much to be done in the struggle for full equality.
“And that is on us as a community. For example, until recently, if you were a city employee, you were not protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.” It wasn’t that the city was opposed to equal protections for city employees, it was just completely overlooked.
“As soon as we pointed it out, they fixed it.”
“There are things that we can do in the city to show people that Hollywood is looking at being a diverse community. So it’s not just about bringing more gay businesses into the city.
“But a business environment that’s LGBTQ-friendly is, by its nature, open and accepting of everyone. It’s going to attract businesses that are minority-owned, that are women-owned; it’s going to attract everybody. The point of being LGBTQ-friendly, of flying the rainbow, is being open and accepting of everyone.”
“And I love that as we develop the Council more, the straight allies are coming out as well. It’s a wonderful community that we have in Hollywood and our son is reaping the benefits of it.”
Hollywood’s founder, Joseph Young’s vision was a place that “will be a city for everyone – from the opulent at the top of the industrial and social ladder to the most humble of working people.”
“Well, I don’t know that [Young] could have possibly seen just how diverse Hollywood would become. But I think that is something the city should really continue to embrace… [Hollywood] has something for everyone.”