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Same-Sex Marriage: Where Florida Law Stands

Does the recognition of gay and lesbian marriages in other states have an impact on ours?

There are two different jurisdictional levels on the gay and lesbian marriage movement: (1) specific state movements, and (2) the federal laws regarding the recognition of state laws.

Article Four, Section 1 of the United States Constitution states:

"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."

Interestingly, despite the "Full Faith and Credit” Clause of the United States Constitution, states do not have to recognize other states' same-sex marriage laws. Perhaps one reason is because Amendment 10 states:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

In Florida, we know that section 741.212, Florida Statutes, does not recognize a marriage between the same sex as valid. We also know that for those same-sex couples that were legally married in another state, Florida will not recognize the marriage. 

If the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution applied to marriage, I believe that Florida would have to recognize other states that had valid same-sex marriages. However, our federal government decided to carve out an exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause and say that valid laws in other states do not have to apply in situations of same-sex marriages. 

Then again, rulings on domestic relations are typically reserved for each state. Matters of divorce, paternity, marriage and so forth are not a matter of federal concern. 

Notably, the issue with same-sex marriage will not be solved nationwide if Florida decides to recognize same-sex couple marriages or does not. The issue is far broader than Florida. It is an issue based on voters’ personal values and beliefs. 

We know this: The United States military is now going to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly; multiple states are starting to recognize same-sex marriage, and the federal government has expressed concern that the Defense of Marriage Act may be unconstitutional. 

So what is Florida’s next step? Do we care more about the bond between two people that are the same sex based on principal, or are we truly concerned about the formal recognition of a marriage between the same sex because it may or may not affect our health insurance, car insurance or life insurance rates?

I honestly do not know the answer, but I hope our elected officials know your opinion. 

ettiemiller August 08, 2011 at 09:31 AM
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