Florida Statewide Domestic Partnership Bill to be Heard at Senate Committee

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The Florida Senate’s Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs has announced it will hear a bill that could make domestic partnerships legal statewide.

According to Equality Florida, Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood), who introduced the bill and is the chair of the committee, has scheduled the bill to be up for discussion on Feb. 19.

"The historic hearing on Feb. 19 will mark the first time the Florida legislature will discuss legal recognition of same-sex couples and non-married opposite sex couples,” said Mallory Wells, public policy director for Equality Florida.

"The state has a strong interest in promoting stable and lasting families, and believes that all families should be provided with the opportunity to obtain necessary legal protections and status and the ability to achieve their fullest potential," the bill says in a section of legislative findings as quoted by the Tampa Bay Times.

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.

Gay marriage was banned in Florida’s Constitution in 2008, when Floridians voted 61.9 percent in favor and 38.1 percent opposed to marriage being defined as the union between a man and a woman.

This is an ongoing story. Check back for more updates.

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