23 August 2018
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — For LGBTQ couples seeking a destination wedding and honeymoon, Key West exudes an exotic ambience as the ultimate romantic getaway — offering a relaxing island mindset, exquisite scenery, treasured history and easy accessibility for travel.
“The destination provides an entertaining and secure option for both weddings and honeymoons,” said Guy Ross, LGBTQ sales manager for the Florida Keys tourism council. “There are so many romantic, charming guests houses and resorts on the island — both same-sex and all-welcome.”
Key West, leading the nation in the historic fight for same-sex legal rights, was Florida’s first city to recognize same-sex domestic partnerships and encourage and embrace marriage equality. Monroe County, containing the entire Florida Keys island chain, was Florida’s first county to do the same.
History was made on Key West’s Monroe County Courthouse steps at 12:01 a.m., Jan. 6, 2015, when Florida’s first same-sex marriage united local gay activists Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones.
Less than six months later, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
The Key West City Commission passed resolutions supporting same-sex marriage and urging private companies to offer health benefits to employees’ same-sex partners back in March 2004. Key West’s official motto is One Human Family, adopted in 2000, promoting the inherent unity and equality of all people.
“Because Key West and the Florida Keys continue to be one of the top five U.S. wedding destinations for mainstream couples, it is no surprise that our destination is equally popular with gay and lesbian couples,” Ross said.
Key West’s outdoor wedding settings, framed by ardent sunsets, include the half-mile-long Smathers Beach on the island’s southern side, gardens at the former home of author Ernest Hemingway, the Audubon House or the Key West Garden Club at West Martello Tower, the White Street Pier or the Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, as examples.
Historic Key West churches with lovely traditional indoor settings include The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, Key West United Methodist Church, known as the “Old Stone Church,” built of native coral rock; and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Duval Street. St. Paul’s performs same-sex marriages.
And Key West’s nondenominational Metropolitan Community Church, where pastors began performing commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples in 1984, is an especially joyous location for a wedding.
Adventurous couples have married on paddleboards and bicycles, and scuba aficionados have “plunged into matrimony” underwater. At Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, couples can marry on the beach or at a Civil War–era fort.
Florida Keys honeymoons can be spent in a luxury oceanfront resort, an intimate island suite or a lovingly restored historic guest house. Romantic activities might include commandeering the wheel of a tall ship, chartering a sailboat or hiring a seaplane for a truly memorable day trip to the Dry Tortugas.
Throughout the Keys experienced gay and lesbian wedding specialists offer subtropical expertise in finding just the right attire, flowers, music, wedding rings, catering, cakes, photographers, videographers, decorators, transportation and officiants.
Florida Keys weddings information: fla-keys.com/weddings/
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/gay, fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Gay Key West Visitor Center: gaykeywestfl.com, 305-294-4603 or 1-800-535-7797
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