A bill that would allow Floridians to enter "domestic partnerships" resembling marriages was filed Wednesday by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, in an apparent effort to extend at least some marital benefits to same-sex couples.
While the legislation specifically states it is not an attempt to do an end-run around a provision in the Florida Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, it would allow gay Floridians to get some rights approaching marriage. Any two people who are at least 18 years old would be allowed to establish a domestic partnership under the law.
"The state has a strong interest in promoting stable and lasting families, and believes that all families should be provided with the opportunity to obtain necessary legal protections and status and the ability to achieve their fullest potential," the bill says in a section of legislative findings.
Sobel, who has filed similar legislation in previous sessions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council — a group opposed to same-sex marriage — said domestic partnership proposals are aimed at avoiding the state's legal definition of marriage. "They're attempts to get around (the Constitution) and approximate a faux marriage arrangement," he said.