Civil Rights
7:43 am
Wed June 26, 2013

A Timeline Of Same-Sex Marriage In Florida

The history of gay marriage in Florida may reveal what the future holds. As counties in South Florida gave more rights to same-sex couples, the Sunshine State reinforced its opposition.

Florida is among 30 states with the most rigid same-sex marriage ban, including it in its state constitution.

The following is a brief look back at the issue in recent decades:

1977

In January, Dade County enacts an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

But the ordinance is quickly repealed by a referendum in June led by orange juice beauty queen Anita Bryant, who traveled across the country speaking against gay rights.

Below is an excerpt from the film, Milk, on Bryant and her campaign:

The state enacts a statute banning same-sex marriage and child adoption by gay people.

The main sponsor of the bill, State Senator Curtis Peterson, who later became Senate President, said the message of the ban is "we are tired of you and wish you would go back in the closet.”

1997

A Hawaii court ruling against a ban on same-sex marriage prompts opponents of gay rights to pass stricter laws. After the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, Florida follows with its own similarly titled Defense of Marriage Act.

Florida’s DOMA prohibits recognition of marriage by same-sex couples even if they were married in states that allow such marriages. 

1998

Though he had been a vocal opponent of gay rights, Rubin switched course and in 2004 filed several lawsuits against the gay marriage ban.
Though he had been a vocal opponent of gay rights, Rubin switched course and in 2004 filed several lawsuits against the gay marriage ban.

Monroe County and the city of Key West are the first local governments in the state to offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Miami-Dade County re-passes its ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

1999

Broward County creates a domestic partnership registry and extends health care benefits to domestic partners of county employees.

2004  

Attorney Ellis Rubin, who in 1977 had challenged Miami-Dade’s anti-discrimination law, files suit on behalf of 170 gays and lesbians who sought the right to marry.

The suit against Broward County was the first formal, legal challenge to the state ban.

Because Florida's gay marriage ban is in the state constitution, the legislature and governor cannot change it, as they could any other state law.
Because Florida's gay marriage ban is in the state constitution, the legislature and governor cannot change it, as they could any other state law.
Credit Sweet One / Flickr

2006

Palm Beach County creates a domestic partnership registry.

2008

Miami-Dade County creates a domestic partnership registry.

In November, 62% of Florida voters pass Amendment 2 to the state constitution, banning same-sex marriage and civil unions and prohibiting their recognition.

2010

In a landmark decision, a state appeals court declares the 1977 ban on gay adoption unconstitutional. Florida decides not to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Below is the response from plaintiff Martin Gill:

2013

State Senator Eleanor Sobel introduces SB 196 Families First, which would create a state registry for domestic partnerships and thereby provide certain benefits to same-sex couples.

The bill passes the chamber's Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs but eventually dies in the Judiciary Committee.