Former Oprah Winfrey chef Art Smith wanted to celebrate same-sex weddings being allowed in Florida so much, he invited over 101 same-sex couples to marry on Miami Beach on his dime. Utah’s first same-sex couple to marry, Michael Ferguson and J. Seth Anderson, were among those married.
Smith threw an “over-the-top” mass wedding, officiated by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives chef Guy Fieri, with a cake from Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman and a dance party spun by rag diva and porn director Chi Chi LaRue. Smith chose the number of couples after the movie 101 Dalmatians to shame Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has fought to keep same-sex marriage from becoming legal in the state.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Bondi — who is reportedly in her third marriage — fought against same-sex marriage up until the week weddings came into effect in December, filing desperate legal attempts to stall the impending ceremonies. In one of her numerous court documents on the issue, she claimed that same-sex marriage would cause “significant harm” to the public.
Officials in more conservative counties have stopped performing marriage ceremonies altogether.
Anderson and Ferguson flew to Miami Beach from Utah to renew their vows. When they ran to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s offices within minutes of Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling on Dec. 20, 2013, their family and friends were unable to attend the impromptu ceremony and they married in their work clothes.
“We wanted to come and be a part of this and celebrate with all the other people getting married,” Anderson said.
Fieri, with his spiky hair, tattoos and a love for Southern BBQ, officiated the ceremony in honor of his late lesbian sister.
The couples were showered with white rose petals thrown from the balconies and then treated to a feast of fried chicken, grilled lamb, crab-stuffed avocados, empanadas and a seven-tier gold and silver cake from Goldman.
“My only agenda is to celebrate this and make it true in every state,” said Goldman, who is also a gay-rights advocate. After reading of a baker who refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple a few years ago, Goldman tracked them down and made them a cake.
“We are not arbitrators of morality, we’re cake decorators,” he said.
Smith, who hosts the Big Gay Ice Cream Social at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival each year, said it had been their polite protest to the state law for years. Now they were ready to throw a wedding.
“I felt like it was important for us to show the haters, just shake it off,” he said quoting a Taylor Swift song as he moved onto the dance floor as the crowd cheered him on. “We’re gonna have a party and we’re going to show people we’re proud, we’re happy, we’re loud.