Recognition of same-sex unions in Florida
|Legal recognition of
† Not yet in effect
Under current Florida law, same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not recognized. Same-sex marriage and civil unions were constitutionally banned on November 6, 2008 with 62% of the vote. In Florida, at least 60% of the population must approve a ballot measure for it to become the law.
However, according to recent polls, the majority of Floridians support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. A June 2011 poll found that 67% of Florida voters supported legal recognition of same-sex couples in the form of either same-sex marriage or civil unions.
There is no legal recognition for same-sex couples on a state level.
On January 9, 2013 State Senator Eleanor Sobel introduced SB 196 Families First which would provide to same-sex couples major state benefits offered to married opposite-sex couples. It passed in the Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs by a 5-4 vote, but eventually died in the Judiciary Committee on May 3.
Although there is no statewide recognition of domestic partnerships, more than half of the population of Florida lives in counties or cities with domestic partnerships.
Currently 9 out of 67 Florida counties recognize domestic partnerships.
- Key West
- Miami Beach
- North Port
- South Miami
- St. Cloud
- St. Petersburg
- West Palm Beach
In 1977, the state enacted legislation banning same-sex marriage. State Senator Curtis Peterson, sponsor of the legislation, said it was designed to say "we are tired of you and wish you would go back in the closet."
In 1997, the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly adopted the Defense of Marriage Act, which specifically states marriage is the "union between one man and one woman" and bars the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.
2004 San Francisco same-sex weddings
The San Francisco 2004 same-sex weddings prompted a flurry of similar attempts at same-sex marriage in Florida. On February 25, Attorney Ellis Rubin filed suit in Ft. Lauderdale's Broward County Court on behalf of 170 gays and lesbians who sought the right to marry. The suit, brought against Broward County Clerk Howard Forman was, according to Ft. Lauderdale's NBC news affiliate, "believed to be the first formal legal challenge to the state law specifying that marriage licenses be issued only to parties consisting of one male and one female."
Meanwhile in Tampa, Mayor Pam Iorio signed an order on March 18 which would extend health benefits, effective the following year, to domestic partners of city employees, a legal designation that could include same-sex couples.
The next day, eight same-sex couples, including a Unitarian Universalist minister, the Rev. Gail Gesenhainer, and her partner, Celeste DeRoche, went to Orlando City Hall and requested licenses to be married. Michelle Gervy, a deputy clerk at the Orange County Courthouse, handed the couples a copy of the state statute, and informed the couples that licenses could not be issued. The couples indicated that they wanted to raise awareness of marriage as a matter of civil rights, and several participated later in the day in a union ceremony sponsored by the First Unitarian Church of Orlando.
Earlier that week, the city of Key West passed a resolution in support of same sex marriage, however the move was a symbolic one, since Florida law permits only counties to issue marriage licenses. And in Key West, organizers of a new White Ribbon Campaign for equality launched an effort on March 16 at the Key West City Commission meeting to emphasize the discrepancy between simultaneously extolling freedom and banning gay marriages.
On March 22, gay and lesbian couples gathered in Gainesville at the Alachua County Courthouse and elsewhere around the state as they attempted to obtain marriage licenses and were turned away. Despite the denial of licenses to same sex couples, organizers of efforts to elevate the attention of the state toward equality for all its citizens, insisted that the issue would not go away, and that couples and clergy would continue to make public statements and organize public action to call attention to this issue.
In November 2008, voters approved Florida Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state. 60% of voters were required to pass it, which succeeded with 62% voting in favor.
March 2004 – Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times Poll – 65% Oppose Same-Sex Marriage, Majority Support Civil Unions.
A poll conducted by The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times found that 65% of Floridians oppose same-sex marriage, while 27% are supportive and 8% are undecided. A majority, however, believe that same-sex couples should have equal rights as married heterosexual couples. Only 41% are supportive of President Bush’s push for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
July 2004 – Florida Times-Union and South Florida Sun-Sentinel Poll –
Only 2% Name Same-Sex Marriage As Most Important Issue In Presidential Election of 2004.
In a survey conducted by The Florida Times-Union and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 600 likely Florida voters were asked to name the most important issue determining their vote for president. 2% of those polled named same-sex marriage as their biggest concern, while 26% said it was jobs and the economy, 16% said the situation in Iraq, and 15% said the war on terrorism.
January 2009 - A January 2009 Quinnipiac poll found that 35% of Florida voters supported only civil unions and an additional 27% supported full marriage rights. 31% believed that same-sex couples should not receive any form of recognition.
March 2011 - A March 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 28% of Florida voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 31% supported civil unions, 37% were against all legal recognition of same-sex couples, and 4% were unsure.
June 2011 - A June 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 37% of Florida voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 53% opposed it and 10% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 67% of Florida voters supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 33% supporting same-sex marriage, 34% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 31% opposing all legal recognition, and 1% not sure.
June 2012- A June 2012 Public Policy Polling poll found that only a slight plurality of Florida voters believe gay marriage should be illegal. The poll found that 42% of Florida voters supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 45% opposed it and 13% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 72% of Florida voters supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 37% supporting same-sex marriage, 35% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 26% opposing all legal recognition, and 3% not sure. The same poll found that 61% of Florida Democrats support same sex marriage, while 26% oppose it.
An October 2012 Washington Post poll found wide support for gay marriage among Florida voters, reflecting the changing attitudes toward LGBT residents of the state. In the survey, 54% said that same sex marriage should be legal, while 33% were opposed. 13% had no opinion.
A December 2012 Quinnipiac poll found voters almost evenly divided on the issue of same sex marriage. 45% of Florida residents opposed it, while 43% were in favor of it. Whites(45/44), Hispanics(46/44), Democrats(58/31), Independents(47/40), College Graduates(53/36) were generally in favor of same sex marriage. Blacks(31/60), Republicans(23/66) and voters with no college degree(39/49) were more likely to be opposed to the idea.
An August 2013 StPetePolls survey found voters evenly divided as well, with 46.3% in favor of allowing same-sex marriage and 46.9% against.
- LGBT rights in Florida
- Civil union in the United States
- Domestic partnership in the United States
- Florida Amendment 2
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
- LGBT adoption
- We Are Dad, a documentary film about same sex adoption in Florida
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