Fla. Domestic Partnership Bill Being Reworked After Constitutionality Questioned

Feb 19, 2013

A bill allowing domestic partnerships in Florida is being reworked after lawmakers expressed concerns about its constitutionality at its first committee hearing on Tuesday. The bill sponsor says she’s open to writing a narrower proposal that would grant only certain rights.

Public commenters filled the room at the bill’s Senate committee hearing. One of them, Vicki Nantz of Orlando, said, when her friend Joyce’s partner, Claudia, died in Hospice, Joyce was told she couldn’t arrange her funeral because they were not legally a family.

“No one should have to endure the inhumanity that was endured by our friend Joyce at the very worst moment of her life," she said. "There are thousands of Claudias and Joyces in every single county in Florida.”

Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) said, she does support the idea of all couples having certain rights, like hospital visitation, but she fears the bill, S.B. 196, violates the state constitution because it grants all rights that married people have to domestic partners. Other opponents say, it’s immoral to blur the line between marriage and other relationships.

Bill sponsor Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) said, she’s open to a narrower definition of domestic partner, like the ones passed in Sarasota and Tampa.