LGBT Laws in Florida

floridaThe lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Florida face certain challenges than other residents. Until this past January, same-sex marriage in Florida was illegal. Now legal, same-sex couples from other southern states are flocking to Florida to take advantage of the right to say “I do” with their partners.

Since Florida first became a territory of the United States in 1821, vague laws were enacted against acts such as adultery, bigamy, incest, and any acts of sodomy or public indecency. The law was interpreted to include any sexual activity between two men or two women. This remained the standard until the law was shot down in 2003 when the United States Supreme Court struck down all state laws of the like. Although the sodomy law is unenforceable, the Florida legislators have yet to repeal it as of this year.

As a part of those former laws, a cohabitation ban was also described, something that has yet to be repealed, and is hoped to be introduced into the 2016 legislation sessions after the 2015 sessions were closed a week early and no change was made.

The ban on same sex marriage had been in place since 1977 until this year when it was overturned. Prior to this year, both same-sex marriage as well as civil unions were illegal under Florida’s constitution. A United States district court in August 2014 ruled that the same-sex ban was unconstitutional and by January of 2015 the ban was overturned. Now, nine counties, thirty cities, and one town in Florida offer domestic partnership benefits to any same-sex couples.

In 1977, an anti-gay Save Our Children campaign was led against the adoption of children by same-sex couples or any members of the LGBT community, and a law in Florida was passed specifically to prohibit adoption by the LGBT community. In 2010, a gay couple who was raising foster children decided they wanted to adopt them, so they took their case to the courts and at last the 33 year ban was lifted. The 1977 ban on homosexual adoption has not yet been repealed.

An intensive restructuring of the Florida Legislature detailing adoption took place this year, and the Florida Senate passed the bill in April. By July 1, the Governor will have to review it and either sign it, veto it, or let the bill become a law without his signature.

Florida State does not dictate any laws that address gender identity or sexual orientation, but many counties in Florida have their own standards of protections from such discrimination.