By Anne Geggis
The same week President Joe Biden signed landmark legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriages, Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky, who represents Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Parkland, and parts of Palm Beach County, filed a bill that would strip language out of state law that prohibits same-sex marriage.
The 15-line bill (SB 80) would repeal laws that remain on the books despite the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges that required all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages.
Polsky said she’s filed the same bill three, maybe four times before, but federal action could mean greater momentum, she said. Polsky filed the bill the day after Biden signed the “Respect for Marriage Act” on the South Lawn.
“Now there are at least three bodies that are supreme to the Florida State Legislature that say gay marriage is legal,” she said. “It’s time for this unconstitutional, illegal statute (to come) off the books and say to the LGBTQ community that we support your marriages.”
Polsky expects Rep. Michele Rayner, a St. Petersburg Democrat, to file the same bill in the House, she said.
Just before the 2015 landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle struck down the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that voters had approved in 2008.
And now comes Tuesday’s bill signing that means the court ruling is enshrined in federal law and not subject to subsequent court rulings that could overturn the right, as the nation saw happening with the landmark law that gave women the right to an abortion up through the second trimester.
“It’s time for this unconstitutional, illegal statute (to come) off the books and say to the LGBTQ community that we support your marriages.” Tina Polsky
Stephen Gaskill, president of Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, was among the more than 5,000 people who gathered on the South Lawn of the White House for Tuesday’s signing.
“Because there was such a large crowd, it was really a celebration,” Gaskill said.
The current definition of “marriage” in state law says it’s “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the term “spouse” applies only to a member of such a union.”
That definition remains on the books in several states, Gaskill said.
“It should concern everyone that we have laws on the books that are antiquated and outdated and are never cleaned up,” he said, noting that century-old bans on abortion went into effect in some states after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
But he’s not optimistic the spirit of Tuesday’s gathering will spill over into the state Legislature. He cites laws Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has championed that prevent trans female athletes from competing in sports and more tightly regulate how LGBTQ issues are discussed in schools.
“The … Legislature (is) following right behind the Governor in demonizing and marginalizing the LGBTQ community,” Gaskill said. “So I don’t really see them taking any positive action on our behalf.”
This article was originally published by Florida Politics and reprinted with permission.
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