Florida Domestic Partnership Bill To Be Heard Tomorrrow

Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida
Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida
Florida: A bill that would legalize domestic partnerships in Florida, has stalled in its first senate committee, and equal rights activists spoke out today to get the bill moving again. The bill would grant domestic partners in Florida a small fraction of the rights currently given to married couples, by creating a state-wide domestic partnership registry where couples could register their civil unions. The bill would grant a handful of rights like hospital visitation and funeral arrangement.

Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida, a LGBT civil rights group, addressed the public today saying that the bill

Enjoys broad public support, the business community has been one of the leading voices saying we need these protections. In the moments when it matters the most, in the case of an emergency, rushing someone to the hospital, there is no guarantee that you are going to be treated with the respect that your family deserves.

State Senator Eleanor Sobel, the bill’s sponsor, said she’s made some changes to the bill in hopes of getting it moving again. According to WFSU news, the bill will get a new hearing in the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Sobel, said, what’s in the bill already represents what already exists where 47 percent of Floridians live, which is the case in places like Orlando and Broward County. She said

This is all based on current law that has already has passed muster in the courts. So all of these have all been proven in the courts as well as approved by councils in local governments.

The bill’s supporters say the bill would clear up any confusions when it comes to the states various Domestic Partnership local ordinances.

Some lawmakers were concerned the bill violated the Florida constitution, which in 2008, voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions by defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

If you would like to get involved and let your local representative know you want them to pass the Domestic Partner Registry, here is what you can do (Via: Equality Florida):

[quote_box author=”” profession=””] At this very moment, dozens of citizen lobbyists from across Florida are working the halls of the capitol and telling their stories as part of Equality Florida’s 2013 Annual Lobby Days. By sending a message to your state Representative and Senator right now or signing a petition, you’ll double the impact our team can have on those who make the laws that affect our lives.

Virtual LobbyThere are two easy ways you can get involved as a virtual lobbyist:

1. The Florida Competitive Workforce Act – Send An Email

Did you know that a person can be fired, denied housing or even asked to leave a restaurant in most of Florida simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)?

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state law that already protects people in employment and housing based on race, religion, sex, age and disability.

Take advantage of this prime opportunity to tell your Representative and Senator how critical these protections are to LGBT Floridians. Ask them to co-sponsor the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (HB 653 by Saunders and Raschein with co-sponsors Hutson, Pilon and Richardson as well as SB 710 by Abruzzo), a critical bill that would help make Florida a fair place to work and live.

Nothing makes a bigger difference in building support for this important legislation than lawmakers hearing directly from voters. We know not everyone can make it to Lobby Days in person. But, you can still have an impact by sending a message right now.

If you, a friend or a family member have experienced discrimination on the job, in trying to rent or purchase a home, we especially need you to share your story with your legislators.

2. The “Families First” Statewide Domestic Partner Registry Bill – Sign the Petition

On Tuesday, March 12th the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs will vote on the Families First Bill (SB 196), sponsored by Senator Sobel, which would create a statewide domestic partnership registry for committed, unmarried couples in Florida, and provide important legal protections.

You can help by signing the petition today!

Support is growing across the state including Brendon Ayanbadejo, Baltimore Ravens linebacker and straight ally, who came to Pride South Florida this past weekend to show his support for equality not only in Florida but nationwide!

Ayanbadejo is a passionate supporter of marriage equality and anti-bullying. Since winning Super Bowl XLVII in February, he has used the media attention to help promote pro-LGBT messages. Watch his message below: