If you are a Florida resident in a same-sex relationship, you can access legal protections for your family and assets since the recognition of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court of the United States. The legality of same-sex marriage opens up the ability to plan an estate transfer, create prenuptial agreements or advance parental rights. Prejudices remain throughout society, however, and institutional barriers could arise when adopting a child or trying to manage the medical care of an ailing partner.
Although the momentous ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 allowed for the national recognition of same-sex marriage for couples in Florida and all other states, the rights of same-sex partners continue to be unclear. One right that has a significant impact on how the family is viewed is the right of same-sex partners to be recognized as the parent when the traditional roles of mother and father are not present. Same-sex partners may need to rely on sperm and egg donation and surrogacy to a greater degree than opposite-sex couples, which can create some complex hurdles. It is also very important for many same-sex couples to have equal standing toward children born prior to their relationship.
A study says the children of lesbian couples in Florida and throughout the country are no more likely to have emotional or learning difficulties than the children of opposite-sex couples. The study, which was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, is the first to match stable same-sex and opposite-sex parents based on factors such as level of education, age of parents and family residence. Past studies that have found poorer outcomes for children of same-sex relationships have failed to compensate for the fact that those studies used families that had upheaval such as foster care and divorce.
The general consensus among politicians and child-welfare advocates is that every child deserves to grow up in a loving home. However, some lawmakers are taking steps to impede or deny those in the LGBT community who wish to adopt. This is done even when it could prevent a child from leaving foster care and joining a loving home willing to care for that child.
Same-sex couples have been legally able to marry in Florida since January 2015, which was five months before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that all state laws banning gay marriage were unconstitutional. Many hoped that this decision would finally put an end to the legislative and judicial bickering on this subject, but a number of child custody and adoption cases involving same-sex couples have demonstrated that the law in this area is far from settled.
Florida same-sex parents may be interested in what numerous custody cases taking place across the nation could mean for them. Different states are adopting unique approaches to updating parent definitions and family law, such as in one landmark decision by a Massachusetts judge to give a biological mother and a recognized parent shared custody. Another case out of Kentucky, however, reveals how different levels of court systems may conflict in their decisions.
Florida residents may know that same-sex marriage became legal in their state several months before the historic June 2015 Supreme Court ruling that made it legal throughout the United States. Until the June 26 decision, some states did not provide this freedom, and neither were benefits nor rights provided. The question of retroactivity regarding certain employer health plan benefits remains unanswered.
Florida readers may be interested to learn that a group of activists has filed a lawsuit challenging Mississippi's ban on adoptions by same-sex couples. The complaint was filed on Aug. 12, just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned gay marriage bans nationwide.
Same-sex marriage fueled a bitter political debate in Florida for many years, but the landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015 appears to have settled the matter. The ruling makes bans against same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and gay couples in Florida and around the country now enjoy the same rights and have the same responsibilities as heterosexual couples.
The road to legalizing same-sex marriage here in Florida has been a long one filled with twists and turns and even some litigation. Even though two circuit court decisions struck down the ban on same-sex marriage here in our state, a formal appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi back in November left residents here in Hillsborough County, as well as the rest of the state, in a sort of legal limbo . It left a major question unanswered: was same-sex marriage legal?