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Florida lawmaker introduces same-sex domestic partnership bill

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow Floridians to enter “domestic partnerships.”

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Fort Lauderdale) introduced the “Families First” bill (SB 196), which would extend legal protections to same-sex couples, including hospital visitation rights and the ability to make healthcare decisions for a partner.

“This bill makes a lasting change in the lives of many Florida families. By keeping couples together through affording them the same equal rights, we are supporting Florida families,” said Sobel.

“A majority of Americans support extending benefits to couples in domestic partnerships. We cannot allow Florida to be the last state to treat all of its citizens fairly and equally. I am committed to sponsoring and fighting for this bill until it is heard, passed, and signed by the governor,” she said.

SB 196 comes at a time when public support for gay families is at an all time high, according to Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy group.

In Florida, a majority of the population already lives in a community that has domestic partnerships on the local level, including Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami Dade County, Volusia County, Orange County, Gainesville, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Gulfport, Tampa and Sarasota.

“It is essential that the Florida Legislature approves the Families First Act to give families legal protections provided by a domestic partnership, such as medical decision-making, hospital visitation rights and the use of family medical leave,” said Rep. Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach), who is sponsoring the bill in the House.

Under current Florida law, same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not recognized. Same-sex marriage and civil unions were constitutionally banned on November 6, 2008 with 62 percent of the vote.

The “Families First” bill would provide registered domestic partners the same state-afforded benefits that married couples currently receive.

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16 more reader comments:

  1. Hope it passes

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:02am
  2. A great start but not good enough.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:02am
  3. Great Start for a great southern state.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:06am
  4. It’s a step.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:11am
  5. It’s a big step in the right direction, not big enough but it will be expanded on in the future.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:26am
  6. This is long overdue

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:32am
  7. Been waiting 36 yrs with my partner to be seen

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:37am
  8. Good luck

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:55am
  9. So straight people have demostic partnership as well ? Or is it dumb straight people trying to once again have more rights ?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:15am
  10. This is why I just hate so many straight people shit like this

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:16am
  11. PROGRESS; however slow, is a step forward!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:18am
  12. We saw our opportunity, and we took it! My partner and I were right at the front of the line of 18,000 applicants when CA offered SS Marriage. Our intuition told us….You know the history. Despite the fact of SS Marriage opposition in CA being declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL by the Court, the GLBT Community here remains vigilant and hopeful that MARRIAGE EQUALITY will be restored to CA.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:26am
  13. Thank you, Eleanor Sobel

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:42am
  14. It’s a step forward, but it’s still a HUGE gap from full equality. “Domestic partnerships are the lowest level of relationship recognition, and the rights and responsibilities they convey vary drastically from state to state, if a state provides them at all. The protections and benefits of domestic partnerships are typically minimal, and are not recognized if the couple travels outside their home state. Some employers, but not all, offer domestic partner health care benefits. Many domestic partners must take exhaustive (and expensive) legal steps to protect themselves and their families. Even then, they can still face serious financial, legal and social challenges, especially as they age, retire, purchase property, raise children and seek medical treatment.”

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:59am
  15. Knowing Florida they will turn it down, but make it legal to marry your cousin. That is as long as your cousin is the opposite sex.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 8:33am
  16. We got our domestic partnership in Orlando, but still waiting for full marriage…i cant wait to be fully legally married to my wonderful wife

    Posted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 4:31pm