Florida Statewide Domestic Partnership Bill Stalls

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The bill that would have created a statewide domestic partner registry for Florida is stalled.

The Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs heard nearly two hours of testimony today on SB 196, the "Families First" Bill, which would have created a statewide domestic partner registry.

Although the majority of speakers testified in favor of the bill, the committee members ultimately rejected an amendment and Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood), who filed the bill in January, declared it temporarily postponed.

According to Michael Farmer, statewide field coordinator at Equality Florida, the temporary postponement is a good thing, because it allows the legislators to step back and make some changes, keeping open the chance to vote the bill forward in another hearing.

Among the first speakers at the Feb. 19 hearing was Orlando attorney and LGBT activist Mary Meeks, who testified about the bill's legality, primarily stating that the bill's creation of a domestic partner registry does not violate the Marriage Protection Act, the state amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

"The [Florida] Supreme Court has recognized that marriage is a complex concept, it's not just a list of rights that are conferred," Meeks said. "There have been a number of legal challenges to domestic partner registries across the country, but to my knowledge, no DPR has been found to be illegal or unconstitutional."

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