A bill that would legalize domestic partnerships throughout the entire state cleared the first of several hurdles.
On April 1, the “Families First” bill (SB 196) passed the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs by a slim 5 to 4 margin. The bill will now head to another committee.
“Today we made history,” Hollywood Sen. Eleanor Sobel is quoted by Equality Florida as saying.
Sobel has unsuccessfully introduced the bill for several consecutive years, but this is the first time the legislation makes it past one of the committees.
“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.