TALLAHASSEE — State Rep. Linda Stewart has filed a bill to create a state domestic partnership registry that would allow unmarried, cohabiting couples the ability to visit each other in hospitals, make joint education decisions for children and other benefits.
The measure (HB 438) is one of the top LGBT agenda items for 2014 in Florida, and one of a half-dozen civil-rights issues related to the gay/lesbian/transgender community, immigrant groups, and other minorities, that Democrats are filing for a session that coincides with 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Last year, a similar bill got its first vote in a Senate committee, passing by one vote after several lawmakers “took a walk” out of the room. It was viewed as a largely symbolic event, though, and the measure has long odds for passing in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
“Right now, Florida doesn’t have a law in place to protect everyday people in financially and emotionally committed relationships, and that’s unjust,” the Orlando Democrat said in a statement.
“If the legislature is serious about economic development and putting Florida’s families first it will look hard at this issue. In a state as diverse as ours, you can’t talk seriously about a business moving somewhere they can’t hire or keep the best people; both Republicans and Democrats, small cities and big counties have figured that out.”