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Equality Florida: Florida Domestic Partnerships Act introduced in both legislative chambers

News release from Equality Florida:

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A bill that would provide domestic partnership protections to committed couples throughout Florida has been filed in both chambers of the legislature. State Representative Mark Pafford (D- West Palm Beach) filed the Domestic Partnerships Act (HB-139) on Monday in the House. Senator Sobel is the Senate sponsor.

The filing comes as more local municipalities have adopted these vital workplace protections that are often the only means for gay couples to get health care benefits.

“It is only sensible that we do all we can to attract and retain the best and brightest to work in Florida and to grow businesses here,” said Representative Pafford. “By recognizing domestic partnerships, we will take a leap forward in improving our economy and the manner in which our residents are treated. It makes good economic sense, it is sound personnel policy, and it is the right thing to do.”

Florida currently ranks 7th in the nation, with 6.7 million people living in communities that recognize domestic partnerships. Rep. Pafford's bill would make these protections and responsibilities available to all couples statewide.

Nearly 60% of Fortune 500 companies and a majority of Florida’s universities offer domestic partner benefits in order to attract and retain the best and brightest employees.

“Equality Florida is proud to work with Rep. Pafford and Sen. Sobel to provide these important protections to Florida’s domestic partners, gay and straight,” said Mallory Wells, public policy director for Equality Florida. “Equality Florida has also been working with municipalities across the state, as well as private employers, including Pepsico, Citi Bank, BlueCross BlueShield of Florida and Wells Fargo, who offer domestic partner benefits because they recognize that workplace inequities create obstacles to attracting and retaining top talent.”

The Domestic Partnerships Act would grant individuals in a domestic partnership the same benefits and responsibilities currently available through marriage.

The Senate version of the bill, SB 166, is sponsored by Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood). "I'm proud to have filed this bill over the past three years to draw attention to disparities in the workplace. Equality Florida has done a remarkable job getting these provisions approved in places like Ft. Lauderdale; St. Cloud; Tallahassee; Miami-Dade and Orange counties. Now it is time to ensure this basic fairness all across our state.”

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