Domestic Partnership Bill Passes Senate Committee: First Florida Vote Recognizing Same-Sex Couples

A bill that would create a statewide domestic partnership registry open to same-sex couples passed its first committee in the Florida Senate yesterday. Though the bill still has a long way to go, the vote was the first in the Florida Legislature that recognized rights for same-sex couples.

The Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee passed the bill 5-4, with the vote coming down mostly along party lines. However, Sen. Nancy Detert, a Republican from Venice, joined Democrats to give it the five votes necessary to pass through the committee.

"This is the first time the Florida Legislature has ever voted to recognize same-sex relationships -- and provide protections for committed couples all over the state of Florida who cannot or choose not to be married," Mallory Wells, public policy director for Equality Florida told the Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau. "It certainly is a historic day for us."

Passage through the full legislature is unlikely, though. Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Democrat from Hollywood, sponsored the bill and chairs the committee that passed it. The bill would still need to pass four other committees before reaching the full Senate, and those committees, like the Senate in general, are all controlled by Republicans. A partner bill would also have to make its way through the House.

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