TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two Florida state lawmakers have introduced a measure in both chambers of the legislature that would provide domestic partnership protections to committed same-sex couples throughout Florida.
State Rep. Mark Pafford (D-West Palm Beach) on Monday filed House Bill 139, referred to as the Domestic Partnerships Act. State Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale), is the sponsor of the Senate version, SB-139.
“It is only sensible that we do all we can to attract and retain the best and brightest to work in Florida and to grow businesses here,” said Pafford, in a statement released to Equality Florida.
“By recognizing domestic partnerships, we will take a leap forward in improving our economy and the manner in which our residents are treated. It makes good economic sense, it is sound personnel policy, and it is the right thing to do.”
The filing comes as more local municipalities in Florida have adopted vital workplace protections that are often the only means for same-sex couples to get health care benefits.
With 6.7 million people living in communities that recognize domestic partnerships, Florida currently ranks seventh in the nation. Pafford’s bill would make these protections and responsibilities available to all couples statewide.
According to research conducted by Equality Florida, nearly 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies and a majority of Florida’s universities offer domestic partner benefits in order to attract and retain the best and brightest employees. The Domestic Partnerships Act would grant individuals in a domestic partnership the same benefits and responsibilities currently available through marriage.
“Equality Florida is proud to work with Rep. Pafford and Sen. Sobel to provide these important protections to Florida’s domestic partners, gay and straight,” said Mallory Wells, public policy director for Equality Florida.
“Equality Florida has also been working with municipalities across the state, as well as private employers, including Pepsico, Citi Bank, BlueCross BlueShield of Florida and Wells Fargo, who offer domestic partner benefits because they recognize that workplace inequities create obstacles to attracting and retaining top talent,” said Wells.
“I’m proud to have filed this bill over the past three years to draw attention to disparities in the workplace,” said Sobel. “Equality Florida has done a remarkable job getting these provisions approved … Now it is time to ensure this basic fairness all across our state.”