Florida Gay Marriage
Gay marriage in Florida is prohibited by law. Specifically, the Florida constitution in Article I, Section 27 states:
Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.
As a practical matter, if you try to have a marriage certificate issued by a Florida county clerk, they will not process it. They’ll tell you that Florida does not allow same-sex adoptions.
Can You Get Married Somewhere Else Instead?
Florida residents can indeed get married somewhere else. As you may already know, the number of states allowing gay marriage has been rapidly increasing in recent years. Most of these states allow nonresidents to get married, so getting married in those states could be an option for Florida gay and lesbian couples.
However, once you come back home, Florida will not recognize your out of state marriage. At all. Not for insurance purposes, divorce purposes, estate planning, inheritance, taxes, or anything. Under Florida law, same-sex marriages, even if validly performed in another state, get zero recognition.
Still, getting married in another state can be symbolically important for many gay and lesbian couples. If you do decide to get married in another state, keep in mind that some states are better than others for doing so.
What’s the Best Alternative to Gay Marriage in Florida?
Because getting married out of state does not actually give gay and lesbian couples any rights back in Florida, the best way to actually obtain marriage-like rights in Florida is through a simple estate plan. These estate plans include a will, power of attorney, health care directive, living will, HIPAA, and a few other documents depending on the couple’s assets and family makeup. Let me know if you’d like help with that–I do this kind of work every day, and I’d be honored to help legally solidify your relationship.
Will the Law Ever Change?
Eventually, most people think that gay and lesbian couples will be able to get married in Florida and in the rest of the country. But that day may not be coming anytime soon. Two cases about gay marriage are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, but it does not appear likely that the Supreme Court will make states without gay marriage, like Florida, legalize it.
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