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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Episode 34 (Epilogue): Same Sex Parenting

We opened tonight's show about Same Sex Parenting with this now viral clip of Zach Wahls, the son of two mothers, on the floor of the Iowa legislature in 2011. 

We then heard from Nadine Smith, president of Equality Florida ( From this website we have pulled out the following points to remember:
  • In October 2010, Attorney General Bill McCollum announced that the State of Florida was ending the 33-year-old ban on gay adoptions in Florida.
  • Civil rights laws have been passed by the U.S. Congress and by the Florida Legislature that provide legal protections against discrimination in areas such as employment, education, housing, and public accommodations, on the basis of certain specified categories, including race, national origin, sex, age, disability, and others.  There are a number of different federal laws that provide these protections, including the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991.  
  • Currently, the federal and Florida anti-discrimination laws provide very little legal protection to LGBT citizens subjected to discrimination.  Neither the federal nor Florida anti-discrimination laws include “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in the list of classifications protected from discrimination.  There is pending legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would add these classifications to the federal laws if passed by Congress and signed into law.   
  • Section 400.6095 of the Florida Statutes provides that hospice facilities shall make their services available to all terminally ill persons and their families without regard to sexual orientation, and Section  397.501 similarly provides that service providers may not deny an individual access to substance abuse services on the basis of sexual preference.   
  • Although the federal and Florida anti-discrimination laws do not specifically prohibit discrimination against LGBT citizens, some cities and counties in Florida have passed their own anti-discrimination ordinances that do prohibit such discrimination within their geographic boundaries.  Some of these municipalities include Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Leon County, Monroe County, Palm  Beach County, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami Beach, Sarasota, West  Palm Beach, St. Petersburg, Venice, and others.  
  • Florida’s Constitution (Article I) and Section 741.212 of the Florida Statutes effectively “ban marriage for same-sex couples” by defining marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman, and Florida’s Constitution further mandates that “no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.” (Fla. Const. Article I, Section 27) These same laws prohibit Florida from recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
  • Currently, Florida does not have any form of statewide recognition of same-sex relationships.  However, similar to municipal ordinances banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, some Florida municipalities as well as public and private employers offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, and some municipalities provide domestic partner registries that allow same-sex couples within their jurisdiction to register and receive certain benefits. Among many other considerations, the inability to enter into a legally recognized marriage means that same-sex partners do  not automatically have authority to make healthcare, childcare, and related life decisions with respect to each other, nor will they automatically inherit each other’s property upon death. 
  • If you are a gay couple, legally married in a state or country that performs such marriages, one significant issue that arises is the ability to file your federal income tax return as married even though the federal government refuses to acknowledge your marriage. 
  • It is important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender Floridians to be able to protect their families. Without legal protections our families are not able to make vital health care, child care and end of life decisions. nfortunately, right now, marriage is not an option for same-sex couples in Florida. In 2008 Florida passed Amendment 2 which defined marriage as “the union between one man and one woman.”
  • Equality Florida is working with cities, counties and businesses all across the state, and even in the state legislature, to provide domestic partnership benefits for both same-sex and opposite sex unmarried couples. Domestic partnerships provide unmarried couples important, basic legal protections.
  • Right now Florida ranks 5th in the nation, with over 5.5 million people living in communities that recognize domestic partnerships, either through registries or public employer benefits. These places offer benefits for domestic partners not only because it is the right thing to do, but it helps to attract and retain the best and the brightest to their city or county. 
We mentioned the influential moment in Washington during which Nadine Smith handed President Obama a letter asking him take action against Florida's 33-year old law banning same sex adoption. The Administration called Nadine almost immediately thereafter. Four months later, the law was reversed.

Other resources for LGBT parents and their children:
  • NATIONAL: The Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the one million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents in this country and the two million children they are raising. Visit for more information.
  • STATE: Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Visit or for more information, or to download the Legal Handbook for LGBT Floridians and their Families.
  • LOCAL: ALSO Out Youth strives to end all forms of violence, harassment and discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender indentity. Our mission is to enhance self-esteem, promote healthy dialogue, and increase awareness of sexual minority issues. Visit for more information.  

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