Equality Florida Commends Bipartisan Sponsorship of
"Florida Families Act” to Create
Statewide Domestic Partnership Registry
(Tallahassee) - A bill that would create a statewide registry for domestic partnership is drawing bipartisan support in Tallahassee. Lead sponsor Rep. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) filed the bill today and will be joined by Rep. Dave Hood (R-New Smyrna Beach) who is signing on as the primary Republican co-sponsor.
Known as the “Florida Families Act”, HB 439 will be sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood). As chair of the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, Sen. Sobel had introduced a similar bill during this years session. That bill passed in that committee but did not progress to the floor for a vote.
Currently, more than half of Floridians live in a community that provides with domestic partner registries, including Leon, Volusia, Orange, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Sarasota and Pinellas counties. On December 12, Pensacola joined the growing number of communities offering domestic partner protections, as the Pensacola City Council voted 8-1 to create a domestic partner registry.
“Floridians deserve better than the existing patchwork of protections for domestic partners across the state. This important effort will ensure that uniform provisions are in place,” said Senator Sobel. “My domestic partnership bill will strengthen Florida Families and give them the confidence that they are covered no matter where in Florida they travel or live.”
Equality Florida has been actively involved in pursuing a statewide domestic partnership registry, crafting the legislation, meeting with legislators and lobbying in Tallahassee. On the local level, Equality Florida has worked with city and county commissions to enact their own registries.
“Support for family recognition laws exceeds 70% and crosses party lines,” said Mallory Garner-Wells, Public Policy Director for Equality Florida.
“From Pensacola to Key West, Florida has seen a wave of bipartisan support for domestic partner registries benefitting both same-sex and opposite-sex couples,” added Garner-Wells. “This measure would provide key protections that Floridians need right now to take care of their loved ones.”
The business community has become a strong advocate for domestic partnership laws and other anti-discrimination protections. Employers say such laws send a message that Florida welcomes diversity and draws top talent and the jobs to the state.
“If the legislature is serious about economic development and putting Florida’s families first it will look hard at this issue,” said Rep. Stewart. “In a state as diverse as ours, you can’t talk seriously about a business moving somewhere where they can’t hire or keep the best people; both Republicans and Democrats, small cities and big counties have figured that out.”
The Florida Families legislation will simplify the process for providing important legal protections to domestic partners, no matter where they live in the state.
Contact: Mallory Garner-Wells, Public Policy Director, [email protected]