It is important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Floridians to be able to protect their families. Without legal protections our families are not able to make vital health care, child care and end of life decisions. Unfortunately, right now, marriage is not an option for same-sex couples in Florida. In 2008 Florida passed Amendment 2 which defined marriage as “the union between one man and one woman.”
But we are making strides.
On January 21, 2014, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit in state court with federal claims on behalf of six same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in Florida. The lawsuit argues that laws in Florida that restrict marriage to different-sex couples violate the United States Constitution's commitment to equal protection under the law. Our next major hearing is being held on July 2nd in Miami. To learn more about the marriage lawsuits in Florida, click here.
Equality Florida is also working with cities, counties and businesses all across the state, and even in the state legislature, to provide domestic partnership benefits for both same-sex and opposite sex unmarried couples. Domestic partnerships provide unmarried couples important, basic legal protections.
Right now Florida ranks 3rd in the nation, with over 9.8 million people living in communities that recognize domestic partnerships, either through registries or public employer benefits. There are 32 Florida cities and counties that provide domestic partnership benefits either through DP registries or public employee benefit programs. These programs reach nearly half of all Floridians. These places offer benefits for domestic partners not only because it is the right thing to do, but it helps to attract and retain the best and the brightest to their city or county. Take a look at our Then & Now map to see all the places in Florida that offer domestic partner benefits by clicking here.
Even as we gain victory after victory at the local level, we are working on the state level to ensure all committed, non-married couples in Florida will have access to domestic partnerships. Since 2009 we have worked with our legislative allies to introduce a comprehensive domestic partnership bill in Tallahassee. Each year we see a greater number of legislators understand the importance of providing legal protections for all of Florida’s families. E-mail your legislators and ask them to support our statewide domestic partnership bill.