Gulfport couples have been calling for a statewide domestic partnership registry since City Council unanimously agreed to create a registry last May. Now, the opportunity to allow gay and straight unmarried couples some of the legal benefits of marriage at a state level has been stalled in committee.
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs tabled a bill that would create a statewide domestic partnership registry.
According to WFSU Media, lawmakers expressed concerns about its constitutionality.
Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) said she supports the idea of allowing all couples certain rights, like hospital visitation, according to the report. However, she is concerned about its constitutionality because it grants all rights that married people have to domestic partners, according to WFSU Media.
Other opponents of the bill said it was immoral to blur the line between marriage and other relationships, the report stated.
As a result, sponsor Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) put the bill on hold and plans to rework it with perhaps a narrower definition of domestic partner, like the ones passed in Sarasota and Tampa, the report said.
Local advocates are disappointed in the result.
Nadine Smith, Gulfport resident and executive director of Equality Florida shared the following statement with Gulfport Patch.
"People from around the state gave compelling testimony on the need for protections. It is disappointing that the bill was not moved forward. We will call on those who say they would support a different version to keep their word and help craft an amendment that provides these essential protections."
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