Democrats, Gay Rights Activists Push Florida Bill That Would Set Up Domestic Partnership Registry

"It enjoys broad public support,” Equality Florida's executive director said of the "Families First" bill

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    Hollywood State Sen. Eleanor Sobel's bill would set up a domestic partnership registry. She and Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, spoke about the legislation.

    Democrats, attorneys and gay rights activists gathered on the fourth floor of the state Capitol Monday trying to change minds about same-sex couples.

    Nadine Smith is the executive director of Equality Florida, a gay and lesbian rights group that is backing a bill to set up a domestic partnership registry.

    "It enjoys broad public support,” she said. “The business community has been one of the leading voices saying we need these protections."

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    Hallandale Beach city commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution that provides a tax equity reimbursement to city employees who receive domestic partnership benefits. The resolution's sponsor, City Commissioner Alexander Lewy, and Stratton Pollitzer of Equality Florida spoke about the move.

    If the “Families First” bill becomes law, it would allow partners to do things like visit each other in the hospital, make emergency decisions for each other, and own property together.

    "In the moments when it matters the most, in case of an emergency, rushing somebody to the hospital, there’s no guarantee you’re going to be treated with the respect your family deserves,” Smith said.

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    Hollywood State Sen. Eleanor Sobel is sponsoring the legislation, which is Senate Bill 196. The Democrat recently made some changes in hopes of getting it through several Senate committees.

    "This bill now is what the committee will agree to,” Sobel said.

    Opponents see the partnership bill as a step toward legalizing gay marriage, but in reality voters have the final say.

    In 2008, a constitutional amendment was passed writing a gay marriage ban into Florida’s constitution.

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