Florida Gay Rights Bills Languish

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While states like Delaware are making strides in the fight for equal rights, it looks like it’ll be a long time before Florida takes a step forward for the LGBT community.

Two bills that would have given LGBT Floridians extended rights regarding domestic partnerships and workplace protections never made it past the committees for a chance to be discussed in the House and Senate floors.

The Florida legislative session ended on May 3.

The “Families First” bill, which would have legalized domestic partnerships throughout the entire state, passed the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs by a slim 5 to 4 margin, but it later died in the in the Judiciary committee, the Huffington Post reports.

As Equality Florida’s director Nadine Smith explained when the legislation passed the first hurdle, the bill would have united all municipalities under the same law, making it easier for gay couples to enjoy the same benefits no matter where they are in the state.

“If you live on the border between a municipality that has these protections and one that doesn't,” Smith said, “in that urgent moment when seconds matter, you have to consult a GPS to determine which hospital to race to, which place will respect you as a family and which will treat you as a legal stranger.”

The domestic partnership registry allows gay couples rights to hospital visitations in case the other one’s ill, funeral and burial arrangements, and child education decisions.

Many cities in Florida, including Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Orange County already allow for domestic partnerships, however, the union is recognized only in the county where it was performed.

State lawmakers also abandoned the Competitive Workforce Act, which would have updated Florida’s Civil Rights Act of 1992 to include workplace protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Sergio N. Candido

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