Suze Orman is known as a woman who makes sound financial decisions. On Monday night in Boca Raton, Orman showed her softer side.

“The greatest success of all is I know who I am and who I love,” said Orman, speaking to hundreds gathered at Temple Beth El for a panel discussion titled “Advancing Civil Rights for the LGBT Community.”

Orman, 63, is the author of multiple bestselling books on personal finance and host of the Suze Orman Show on CNBC which features her popular segment “Can I afford it” where she frequently screams “Denied” to hopefuls wanting to spend money on something they can’t afford. On Monday night, Orman put her business advice aside to reveal details of her coming to terms with being a lesbian.

Orman said her journey was never really a struggle with being attracted to women, but more of a tale of embracing who she is and, more importantly, who she loves.

“My life started to soar when the love of my life presented herself to me,” Orman said.

Orman’s love for her wife Kathy Travis was on full display at Temple Beth El. The two met in California at a dinner party, introduced by mutual friends. They were married in 2010 and live part time in South Florida.

“This love will never leave,” Orman said. “Kathy is the woman of my life. My legal spouse and that is 100 percent goodness.”

The panel was hosted by the Anti-Defamation League in co-operation with Equality Florida, Northern Trust and Temple Beth El. “Suze is doing a real service by lending her voice here tonight,” said David L. Barkey, the ADL’s Southeastern Counsel.

Joining Orman and Barkey on the panel were businessman Mitchell Gold, Rabbi Dan Levin, activist Jamie Schaefer, Rev. Andrew J. Sherman and Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith. Before the discussion, Levin, Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth El, officiated a same-sex wedding ceremony and congratulated all the newlyweds in Florida.


Suze Orman and wife Kathy Travis (Photo: JR Davis)

“With faith, integrity and courage anything is possible,” Levin said.

Levin said it was “joy” to celebrate the wedding and that Temple Beth El is a part of the Union for Reform Judaism.

“For many, many years we have wanted to be a congregation that was open to gay families and gay men and women who wanted to be a part of a Jewish community,” Levin said. “We have sought as best we could to lower those barriers to entry and to be as warm and welcoming to every family that wanted to be a part of our community.”

Police estimates put the crowd at near a thousand people as extra seating was added for Orman’s appearance. Orman, raised in Chicago, spoke of her life as a lesbian and how her family coped with her decision to live openly, recalling one Thanksgiving dinner when a cousin asked why she had moved to California.

“It’s so much easier to be gay when you live in California,” she responded. Her cousin’s reaction to the shockingly honest reply illuminated how Orman’s family dealt with her sexuality.

“Silence dwells in families when there’s shame,” Orman said. “Silence dwells when you do not want something to be true.”

Smith relayed a similar story of her upbringing in the Florida Panhandle, “I remember what it was like to be shamed…To hide. I want to be the adult that should have been there for me.”

As the Florida legislature prepares for its 2015 session, Smith said it was vital for the straight community to join the cause for LGBT rights.

“Voices they need to hear is voices of straight people who understand this is not a gay rights struggle but an equal rights struggle,” Smith said.

Despite the overwelming feeling of harmony, peace and love inside Temple Beth El, panelists warned opposition to LGBT people would not go quietly into the good night.

“Social conservatives understand they have lost the battle on marriage equality, but they are not going to lay down and play dead,” Barkey said.

The next front, Barkey said, in the culture wars is in religious freedom and private business.

Gold, co-founder of the multimillion dollar Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Company, agreed and said a potential Marco Rubio Presidency would leave the LGBT community feeling “broken and less than equal.”

Rubio, Florida’s junior senator in the U.S. Senate, did not attend the event, but U.S. Congressmen Patrick Murphy (FL-18) and Ted Deutch (FL-21) were present to show their support. Deutch, a straight married father of three who is Jewish, addressed the audience at the end of the discussion stating, “I am proud of this community more than ever before.”


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