TAMPA, Fla. - Inside the Hillsborough County Records Department, Valentine's Day never ends.
Hearts hang from the ceiling over women wearing wedding gowns. A trellis stands ever-ready for the next couple, just like the couple applying for their marriage license on the day after their 19th anniversary together.
"We thought it would be a fitting tribute to the life that we've lived together to try and obtain a marriage license," explained Jarrod Scarbrough.
With their 9-year-old daughter, Alegra, waiting too, Scarbrough and his partner, Les Sewell, knew they would fail.
They decided to try anyway.
After 15 minutes, a loud-speaker announced their number: 134.
"That's us," Scarbrough said. "Let's go."
Under a big, blue "3," the couple got the same answer they expected 19 years ago.
"The state of Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage, so I'm not going to be able to issue the marriage license," a female clerk explained.
"There's no way you'd be willing to step outside of the box and issue a license? Do the right thing?" Scarbrough said.
"It would be illegal for me to issue the license, because it is Florida statute," the clerk responded.
"OK," Scarbrough sighed. "I can see that."
Though they left the courthouse without a license, the men say their goal, Tuesday at least, was simply to put a face with an issue.
"Like any other couple, we have our ups and downs. Everybody does," Sewell said. "This is a down. Definitely."
But in a room filled daily with public displays of affection, the men say theirs isn't going anywhere either.
"We'll try it again and we'll keep trying until we're able to have our union recognized by the law," Scarbrough said. "You always hold out hope that there may be that one person who's willing to step outside the box, step outside the law, and say, 'Here, I'm going to do this anyway because it's right.'"
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