We the people

Ninth Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

By Chris Zuppa
Published June 24, 2007

Tammy Wernet, left, smiled before she playfully smashed wedding cake into her bride's face, and Debra Weisz smiled back. On this pleasant Saturday evening in May, they celebrated their marriage to each other with family and friends at the Church of the Trinity MCC in Sarasota. Wernet, 46, and Weisz, 37, met at Publix over seven years ago while working in the deli deparment.

Both have children from their previous marriages. Both say they were married to abusive husbands. The two women struck up a friendship, then began to date. "We just found each other, " Weisz said. "We had a hard time in the beginning. It took us a while before people accepted us."

Together, they built their ideal home, a two-story house neatly tucked inside a middle-class neighborhood. A perfect place for family gatherings. They know their marriage isn't legal. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was defeated a year ago in the U.S. Senate, but many states, including Florida, have laws against it.

Only Massachusetts has legalized the practice. Still, Wernet and Weisz live their lives as a couple. During a trip to Disney World, Weisz proposed in the pouring rain. "This is our dream of a lifetime, " Wernet said. "We know it's not going to count, but it still counts in our eyes because we belong together."


Times researcher John Martin contributed to this column