Recognizing Florida Families: Miami Passes Domestic Partnership Ordinance

Remember a few years back when any forward movement on
relationship recognition for same-sex couples and families was
front page news, at least in the LGBT community? Since Prop 8
passed last November, we’ve seen such incredible activity for
equality in the 50 states, resulting in some states passing
marriage laws this year while others successfully beat back
anti-marriage acts or other provisions, it’s been hard to keep up
— a good problem to have!

This week’s news of note is less state-based, but it’s historically
significant nonetheless. Following in the foosteps of nearby
muncipalities, Miami has passed a domestic partnership
. The ordinance, passed 5-0, grants marriage-like
benefits to city employees in domestic partnerships, affecting a
percentage of the city’s ~4,000 employees. SAVE Dade, Equality Florida and
others supported the change.

Some thirty years ago, Miami also passed a gay rights ordinance, at
the time banning discrimination in housing, employment and public
accommodations. That vote spawned Anita Bryant’s Save Our
campaign, ultimately resulting in the passage of the
now infamous statutory ban on “homosexuals” adopting children in
the state, passed the same year. Back then, the pervasive image of
LGBT people was that of loner and predator — it was all we could
do to claim our basic human dignity.

Since that time, much has changed in Miami, in Florida, and
throughout the United States. The wonderful and diverse lives of
LGBT people are featured in the media, in public life, in our
workplaces and communities. Most people know personally or are just
barely removed from someone who is LGBT. And public opinion polling
on equality for LGBT people has skyrocketed — on most issues
between 10-20 points — in the last several years.

In Florida, litigation to overturn the adoption ban has succeeded
in the last year in at least two important cases. Bills have been
advanced to repeal the ban, as well. And whereas Miami was a
forerunner in 1977 when it passed its nondiscrimination ordinance,
it’s now ensuring equality alongside cities like Columbia, MO and
Columbus, OH (both places Family Equality Council has recently assisted
in passing their own pro-equality laws).

Meanwhile, at the state level, Florida considered a strong domestic
partnership bill this year (another piece of legislation Family
Equality Council helped develop), aimed at creating benefits for
families that can’t be touched by the state’s recently passed
constitutional marriage ban. Yes, the ban passed in November, but
the domestic partnership bill was introduced in the New Year. The
work for full equality continues, and the trend is moving up.

So, congratulations to our partners and friends at SAVE Dade,
Equality Florida and other groups that are making these victories a
reality in the Sunshine State. And congratulations to the families
served by these efforts. As we march our way through Pride Month,
we’ve got a lot to be proud of this year.