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Chef Art Smith hosts mass gay wedding on Miami Beach

February 22, 2015

MIAMI BEACH, Florida (AP) — When Smith heard that Florida judges had lifted the state’s ban on same-sex marriage last month, he set out to throw an over the top-wedding officiated by chef Guy Fieri, with a stunning cake from Duff Goldman, and a dance party spun by local star Chi Chi LaRue. He invited the first 101 couples to participate in the free wedding, noting he chose the number after the movie “101 Dalmatians” to shame Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has ardently fought to keep same-sex marriage from becoming legal.

“We have our own Cruella De Vil, Pam Bondi. She was determined that she was going to prevent equality from coming to Florida,” Smith said.

“For a state known for sunshine, it was living in the darkness when it came to LGBT rights and it was important to acknowledge that.”

South Beach is also memorable to Smith who met his partner, Jesus Salgueiro, here 15 years ago while in town with Winfrey. Smith went out to buy some flowers for her home. He returned with the flowers and Salgueiro, whom he married five years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a big ’ole ceremony where Moby performed.

Nicole Griffin, 43, and Stephanie Swanson, 42, had been waiting a few years to say ‘I do.’ The Tampa couple moved from Indiana shortly before gay marriage became legal there. Friends flew in from California and Indianapolis to see the women, both wearing elegant white gowns, get married Saturday.

″(Pam Bondi) fought so hard. She denied us for so long ... I think our presence today and being able to do this is a defeat of that mentality,” Swanson said.

Bondi is appealing the rulings and some county officials in more conservative areas have even stopped performing marriage ceremonies.

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