Statewide domestic partner registry bill in the works

By : Susan Clary
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Orlando – State Rep. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) is working on resurrecting a bill in 2014 that would implement a statewide domestic partner registry. It was submitted to bill drafting in mid-December, and she hopes to secure a Republican co-sponsor.

Last year’s bill, sponsored by Mark S. Pafford (D-West Palm Beach), died when not one Republican committee chair would consider it. A companion senate bill passed one senate hearing, Children, Families and Elder Affairs, a committee chaired by Democrat Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood). 

A month later, it died in the Judiciary Committee, despite the fact that a poll earlier this year showed that 75 percent of Floridians support either gay marriage or civil unions, according to the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

Since then a handful of local municipalities have passed their own LGBT civil protections, but nothing exists on a statewide level.

Stewart’s bill is modeled after the senate bill, which received one Republican swing vote last year. It was written by Orlando attorney and LGBT activist Mary Meeks.

“We have to come up with a model that works across all counties from Pensacola to the Keys,” said Matt Alford, Stewart’s legislative aide.

Bill drafting is a preliminary step before a bill is filed to ensure it meets all the legal requirements. With the domestic partnership bill, officials are checking with stakeholders like local sheriffs, jails officials, assisted living advocates, hospital executives and funeral directors to ascertain whether it meets all guidelines.

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