Gay couple together 29 years: We're "disgusted" we can't marry

8:10 AM, Nov 17, 2010   |    comments
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  • Andy Turek, 72, and Eddie Sherotski, 57, are not legally married...but are waiting to wed.
    

Tampa, Florida - They've been together 29 years.

They own a house together in Seminole Heights.

They even have wedding rings.

But Andy Turek, 72, and Eddie Sherotski, 57, are not legally married.

"We're not protected in Florida," said Turek.  "He takes care of me just like a husband would take care of his wife if she were staying home... I live here and I contribute to the community, and I'm not recognized as a voting person even."

The two met at a gay bar in Wilmington, Delaware in 1982.  Turek came out of an 18-year straight marriage to date Sherotski. 

"He's the only man I've ever been with," Turek said.

Soon, they moved in and committed to spend the rest of their lives together.

In 1991, they were joined in a holy union ceremony at Metropolitan Community Church in Tampa.

"Believe me, God loves gay people," Turek said.

They exchanged rings as a symbol of their commitment to each other.

But Florida doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.

About five years ago, Turek and Sherotski were one of the first same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses at the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in downtown Tampa.  As expected, they were denied.

"And we were told, 'We do not marry men,'" Sherotski recalled.

The couple's main concerns are legal protection in the event that one of them dies. 

Sherotski says he's "disgusted" by the current state of things for same-sex couples in Florida.

"If you think about it, we've tried so hard to get a lot of things passed," Sherotski explained. 

"We've been pushed down so much in Florida."

Turek wanted to make clear that his main reason for sharing his story with 10 News was to offer hope to young gay people, especially in a time when so many are hurting themselves or committing suicide.

"My heart bleeds for these kids that are killing themselves.  Because, look, we made it... we were blessed," he said.

Currently, the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Florida is at a standstill.

Local activist groups, including Pride Tampa Bay, say Republican Rick Scott's election to governor is making them even less optimistic.

"It's a lost cause with Scott as governor," said R. Zeke Fread of Pride Tampa Bay.

"We had hope if Alex Sink was elected, but right now, we're focusing on issues we think we have a better chance on, like adoption [rights for same-sex couples]."

In the meantime, conservatives vow to keep gay marriage out of Florida.

And now that the GOP has a veto-proof majority in the state legislature, that seems more likely than ever.

Janie Porter, 10 News

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