LGBT rights in Florida
|Status||Legal since 2003|
(Lawrence v. Texas)
|Gender identity||Altering sex on birth certificate requires surgery|
|Discrimination protections||None statewide for sexual orientation; Gender identity discrimination banned under Glenn v. Brumby|
|Recognition of relationships||Same-sex marriage legal since 2015|
|Adoption||Legal since 2010|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the U.S. state of Florida may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity became legal in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas on June 26, 2003, and same-sex marriage has been legal in the state since January 6, 2015. Florida law does not address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. However, several cities and counties, comprising about 55% of Florida's population, have enacted anti-discrimination ordinances. These include Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Tallahassee, among others. Furthermore, discrimination on the basis of gender identity has been illegal in Florida since 2011 via Glenn v. Brumby, a court case decided by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Conversion therapy is also banned in a number of cities in the state, mainly in the Miami metropolitan area.
- 1 Legality of same-sex sexual activity
- 2 Recognition of same-sex relationships
- 3 Adoption and parenting
- 4 Discrimination protections
- 5 Gender identity and expression
- 6 Hate crime law
- 7 Conversion therapy
- 8 Public opinion
- 9 Summary table
- 10 See also
- 11 References
Legality of same-sex sexual activity
After Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821, the Territorial Legislature enacted laws against fornication, adultery, bigamy, and incest, as well as against "open lewdness, or ... any notorious act of public indecency, tending to debauch the morals of society." Florida's first specific sodomy law, which was enacted in 1868 and made sodomy a felony, read: "Whoever commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature, either with mankind or with beast, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison not exceeding twenty years." In 1917, the Florida Legislature added a lesser crime, a second-degree misdemeanor: "Whoever commits any unnatural and lascivious act with another person shall be punished by fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months."
Florida courts interpreted the 1868 law to prohibit all sexual activity between two men or two women. It also prohibited oral sex, anal sex and cunnilingus between heterosexual partners. In 1971, the Florida Supreme Court, ruling in Franklin v. State, struck down the "crime against nature" statute as unconstitutionally vague. The court retained the state's prohibition on sodomy by ruling that anal and oral sex could still be prosecuted under the lesser charge of "lewd and lascivious" conduct. Florida further enacted a "psychopathic offender law" in 1955, under which those convicted of sodomy (labelled as "criminal sexual psychopathic persons") would be periodically examined to determine if they had "improved to a degree that [they] will not be a menace to others". The law was repealed in 1979.
In 1960, the state Attorney General issued an opinion that Florida's sodomy statute did not apply to Indian reservations. The opinion stated that crimes committed between Native Americans or between Native Americans and non-Native Americans were a matter for tribal courts. This meant that if the particular reservation had no law against it, sodomy would be legal on the reservation. However, sodomy between non-Native Americans on the reservation would fall under the jurisdiction of state law and would be liable to prosecution.
Same-sex sexual activity remained illegal in Florida until 2003, when the United States Supreme Court struck down all state sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. As of 2017, the state's sodomy law, though unenforceable, has not been repealed by the Florida Legislature.
In October 2018, during a gay sex undercover sting operation by Florida law enforcement, a judge ruled that gay sex is not illegal in a public space so long as it is within a room. The ruling is subject to appeals.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
The state enacted legislation banning same-sex marriage in 1977. Since the passage of Florida Amendment 2 in November 2008 by a vote of 61.9% in favor and 38.1% opposed, both same-sex marriage and civil unions have been banned by Florida's state Constitution.
Amendment 2 added Article I Section 27 to the Florida Constitution, which says:
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.
A U.S. district court ruled on August 21, 2014, in Brenner v. Scott that Florida's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. As a result of that ruling, same-sex marriage has been legal in the state since the court's temporary injunction took effect on January 6, 2015.
Nine counties, thirty cities, and one town in Florida offer domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.
In March 2016, a bill passed the Florida Legislature (House voted 112-5 and Senate voted 38-0) to repeal the 1868 cohabitation ban. The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, signed the bill into law on April 6, 2016. The law went into effect on July 1, 2016. Only Michigan, Mississippi and North Carolina have similar laws on cohabitation bans.
Adoption and parenting
In 1977, partly due to the anti-gay Save Our Children campaign led by Anita Bryant in Miami, the Florida Legislature passed a law specifically prohibiting homosexuals from adopting children; the statute survived several court challenges, and was upheld by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 in Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services.
In 2010, in the case of In re: Gill, involving a same-sex couple raising two foster children whom they wanted to adopt, a state appeals court upheld the ruling by a lower court that the law violated equal protection rights of the couple and the children under the Florida Constitution. The Governor and Attorney General declined to appeal the ruling further, ending Florida's 33-year-old ban on same-sex adoptions.
The Florida Legislature undertook comprehensive adoption reform in 2015. The legislation repeals the 1977 ban on homosexual adoption. HB 7013, passed the Florida House of Representatives on a 68-50 vote on March 11. On April 15, the Florida Senate passed the bill on a 27-11 vote. Republican Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law on June 11 and went into effect on July 1, 2015.
Florida's Department of Health began listing both spouses on the birth certificates of children who have parents of the same sex on May 5, 2016. The move came after three same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit against the state in July 2015 over its practice of treating married same-sex couples differently by listing only one parent on their children's birth certificates.
Since 2000, and amended in 2007 under Florida law, nursing homes and hospitals cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but gender identity is not addressed.
Florida state law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in employment, housing or other areas. Polls have shown that about 75% of Floridians support legally protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
The counties of Alachua, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Volusia, and the cities and towns of Atlantic Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Dunedin, Gainesville, Greenacres, Gulfport, Haverhill, Jacksonville, Key West, Lake Clarke Shores, Lake Worth, Largo, Leesburg, Mascotte, Miami, Miami Beach, Mount Dora, Neptune Beach, North Port, Oakland Park, Orlando, Pembroke Pines, Sarasota, St. Augustine Beach, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa, Tequesta, Venice, West Palm Beach, Wellington, and Wilton Manors prohibit discrimination in employment for sexual orientation and gender identity in both the private and public sector.
Sarasota County, Cape Coral, and Port St. Lucie prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the public sector only. Likewise, Montverde prohibits public sector-discrimination but on the basis of sexual orientation only.
The Florida Competitive Workforce Act would ban LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations statewide. First introduced in 2009, it received its first public hearing in 2016. It stalled in a 6-6 vote amid disputes over the inclusion of gender identity protections and restrooms. The bill is bipartisan and supported by a number of business groups.
In January 2019, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services added sexual orientation and gender identity to their discrimination workplace policy.
Glenn v. Brumby
In December 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia) ruled that Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman living in Georgia, had been unfairly terminated from her job at the Georgia Legislative Assembly due to her transgender status. Relying on Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins and other Title VII precedent, the Court concluded that the plaintiff was discriminated against based on her sex because she was transitioning from male to female. The Court stated that a person is considered transgender "precisely because of the perception that his or her behavior transgresses gender stereotypes." As a result, there is "congruence" between discriminating against transgender individuals and discrimination on the basis of "gender-based behavioral norms." "Because everyone is protected against discrimination based on sex stereotypes, such protections cannot be denied to transgender individuals", the Court ruled. With this decision, discrimination in the workplace based on gender identity is now banned in Florida.
Gender identity and expression
In order for transgender people to change their legal gender in Florida, they must submit an application and affidavit to amend their birth certificate, a letter from a physician confirming appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, and the payment of the amendment fee.
Hate crime law
On September 3, 2015, State Representative David Richardson filed a bill to ban the use of conversion therapy on LGBT minors. The bill was introduced to the Florida Legislature on January 12, 2016. However, it died in a House subcommittee on March 11, 2016. A similar bill died in 2017.
Since July 2016, the Florida Department of Children and Families has prohibited facility staff from attempting to change or discourage a child's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
As of May 2019, several cities and counties within Florida have passed their own bans on conversion therapy on minors, namely Miami Beach, Wilton Manors, Miami, North Bay Village, West Palm Beach, Bay Harbor Islands, Lake Worth, El Portal, Key West, Boynton Beach, Tampa, Delray Beach, Riviera Beach, Wellington, Greenacres, Boca Raton, Oakland Park, Palm Beach County, Gainesville, Broward County, and Alachua County. Conversion therapy bans have also been proposed or pending in other cities, for example in Sarasota, and St. Petersburg.
On January 31, 2019, a federal judge granted a temporary injunction against part of the Tampa ordinance. The judge stopped the city from enforcing its ban on talk therapy, while a lawsuit, Vazzo v. City of Tampa, is allowed to proceed. Other forms of therapy, such as electricshock therapy, are still explicitly banned. The city has filed a motion to dismiss, and it is widely expected the lawsuit will be thrown out due to lack of standing, as none of the plaintiffs is a licensed therapist.
A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) poll found that 61% of Florida residents supported same-sex marriage, while 30% were opposed. 9% were undecided. Additionally, 71% supported an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity. 22% were against. The PRRI also found that 62% were against allowing public businesses to refuse to serve LGBT people due to religious beliefs, while 31% supported such religiously-based refusals.
|% support||% opposition||% no opinion|
|Public Religion Research Institute||January 3-December 30, 2018||3,455||?||68%||25%||7%|
|Public Religion Research Institute||April 5-December 23, 2017||4,374||?||71%||22%||7%|
|Public Religion Research Institute||April 29, 2015-January 7, 2016||4,917||?||70%||24%||6%|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Since 2003)|
|Equal age of consent||(Since 2003)|
|Anti-discrimination laws for sexual orientation||/ (Varies by jurisdiction)|
|Anti-discrimination laws for gender identity or expression||/ (Since 2011 for employment, under Glenn v. Brumby)|
|Same-sex marriages||(Since 2015)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples||(Since 2014)|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples||(Since 2010)|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples||(Since 2010)|
|Right to change legal gender|
|Lesbian, gay and bisexual people allowed to serve openly in the military||(Since 2011)|
|Transgender people allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Conversion therapy banned on minors||/ (Varies by jurisdiction)|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|||
|MSMs allowed to donate blood||/ (Since 2015; one year deferral period)|
- Law of Florida
- LGBT culture in Miami
- LGBT history in Florida
- LGBT rights in the United States
- Politics of Florida
- SAVE Dade
- Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, also called the Johns Committee, which tried to eliminate homosexuals from universities and state employment in Florida, 1956–1965
- Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida, anti-gay pamphlet published by the Johns Committee in 1964, notorious at the time because of its lewd photographs of men engaged in sexual activity
- Duval, John P. Compilation of the public acts of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, passed prior to 1840. Tallahassee: Samuel S. Sibley, Printer, 1839. Sections 40–42 of "An Act relating to Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1839, p. 120
- Franklin v. State, Florida Supreme Court, December 17, 1971, accessed July 14, 2011
- The History of Sodomy Laws in the United States: Florida
- Turbe, Laura A. "Florida's Inconsistent Use of the Best Interests of the Child Standard," 33 Stetson L. Rev. 369 (2003–2004), accessed July 16, 2011, pp. 377–381. Archived June 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine See footnote 34, p. 374.
- New York Times: "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Banning Sodomy," June 26, 2003, accessed May 24, 2011
- Florida Statutes 2014, Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature, accessed January 3, 2015 The statute reads: "800.02 Unnatural and lascivious act. — A person who commits any unnatural and lascivious act with another person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A mother's breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstance violate this section."
- Judge dismisses charges in a gay sex sting: A private room isn’t a ‘public place’
- "Askew signs bill to ban gay marriage". Boca Raton News. June 9, 1977. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- "Initiative Information - Florida Marriage Protection Amendment" (PDF). Florida Department of State, Division of Elections. February 6, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 9, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2008.
- Snow, Justin (August 21, 2014). "Federal judge rules Florida same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional". Metro Weekly. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- Florida governor signs bill allowing couples to shack up
- Unmarried Couples Shacking Up, No Longer Breaking The Law
- SB 498: Repeal of a Prohibition on Cohabitation
- Shacking Up: Florida Legislature Repeals Cohabitation Ban
- Sanlo, Ronni L. ''Unheard Voices: The Effects of Silence on Lesbian and Gay Educators'', Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 1999, p. 14. Books.google.com. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Kwall, Showers; Barack, P.A. (2008-03-26). "The Florida Civil Rights Act, June 6, 2013". Corporate.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "In a Six-to-Six Vote, Federal Appeals Court Declines to Reconsider Decision Upholding Florida's Anti-Gay Adoption Law" Archived 2006-05-15 at the Wayback Machine, American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, press release, July 22, 2004
- Victor Manuel Ramos (October 22, 2010). "Florida won't challenge end to gay adoption ban". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Johnson, Chris (March 12, 2015). "Fla. House approves bill to repeal gay adoption ban". Washington Blade. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
- Cotterell, Bill (April 14, 2015). "Florida Senate votes to remove gay adoption ban". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
- "Gay adoption ban stricken from Florida laws after 4 decades". The Tampa Tribune. 11 June 2015.
- Gay adoption ban stricken from Florida laws after four decades
- Phillips, Anna (May 17, 2016). "Florida will list both names of same-sex couples on birth certificates". Tampa Bay Times.
- The 2016 Florida Statutes; NURSING HOMES AND RELATED HEALTH CARE FACILITIES
- Discrimination Equality Florida
- Watkins, Morgan (August 13, 2013). "County adds sexual orientation to its human rights ordinance". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- "Cities and Counties with Non-Discrimination Ordinances that Include Gender Identity". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- Fla. county adds sexual orientation, gender identity to human rights ordinance LGBTQ Nation
- "Florida Cities & Counties with Nondiscrimination Laws". University of Central Florida. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- "Victory: Orange County Passes LGBT Protections". Equality Florida. November 23, 2010. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- Osceola County Votes to Protect LGBT Community from Workplace, Housing and Public Accommodations Discrimination
- "Pinellas Commission passes protections for transgender people". Tampa Bay Times. August 20, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- "Atlantic Beach unanimously passes Human Rights Ordinance". First Coast News. August 11, 2014.
- 3 Florida cities receive perfect score for LGBT anti-discrimination policies
- "Delray Beach Unanimously Passes LGBT-Inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. July 8, 2015.
- Joseph, Chris (May 19, 2015). "Greenacres Enacts LGBT-Inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance". New Times Broward-Palm Beach.
- Haverhill, Fla. Protects LGBT Town Employees
- Justice, Kent & Piggot, Jim (February 14, 2016). "Supporters cheer as Jacksonville City Council passes HRO expansion". WJXT.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Pro-Business Coalition Congratulates the Village of Wellington and Town of Lake Clarke Shores for Becoming Florida's 23rd and 24th Municipalities to Pass Anti-Discrimination Measures". Florida businesses for a competitive workforce. September 16, 2015.
- "Employee Handbook A" (PDF). City of Largo. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
Any verbal, physical, or visual conduct that belittles, demeans, denigrates, or shows hostility toward an individual or group based on ... gender identity or expression, or similar characteristic or circumstance is prohibited.
- Leesburg passes LGBT anti-discrimination law Archived 2015-06-17 at the Wayback Machine
- "Mascotte approves measure to stop LGBT discrimination". November 2, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
- "Neptune Beach council amends city personnel policy so it protects LGBT employees". The Florida Times-Union. June 2, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- Orlando Unanimously Approves Transgender Non-Discrimination Protections
- Municipal Equality Index 2015
- Sarasota Unanimously Passes Measure Adding Transgender Protections
- ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA 1/2 2016 MUNICIPAL EQUALITY INDEX SCORECARD
- "Application for Employment". Village of Tequesta. March 16, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
It is the policy of the Village to conduct recruitment and selection in an affirmative manner to provide equal employment opportunity to all applicants and to prohibit discrimination because of ... gender identity or expression[permanent dead link]
- "Venice Votes Unanimously to Protect LGBT Community". Equality Florida. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- "Wellington Unanimously Passes LGBT-Inclusive Civil Rights Ordinance". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
- "Personnel and Safety Rules and Regulations" (PDF). City of Wilton Manors. October 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- Sarasota County: Affirmative Action / Equal Employment Opportunity Archived 2013-01-16 at the Wayback Machine
- 2014 MEI report
- Municipal Equality Index 2016
- Florida Government Organizations with Employment Policies
- Rohrer, Gray. "Senate panel stumbles over bill banning LGBT employment discrimination". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
- Perry, Mitch. "Bipartisan effort again behind LGBTQ discrimination bill". Retrieved 2019-01-05.
- "Lawmakers Introduce Florida Competitive Workforce Act for Consideration During the 2017 Session". Florida Competes. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
- Gancarski, A. G. "Hispanic Chamber of Commerce backs Competitive Workforce Act". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
- Ammann, Phil. "Florida Realtors lends support to anti-discrimination Florida Competitive Workforce Act". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
- "Ag. Commissioner Nikki Fried adds sexual orientation, gender identity to department's workplace protections". floridapolitics.com. January 18, 2019.
- "Commissioner Fried Announces Policies Protecting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity". Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. January 18, 2019.
- Examples of Court Decisions Supporting Coverage of LGBT-Related Discrimination Under Title VII
- Florida National Center for Transgender Equality
- The 2016 Florida Statutes; MISCELLANEOUS CRIMES
- The 2016 Florida Statutes; CRIMINAL GANG ENFORCEMENT AND PREVENTION
- Human Resources Campaign: Florida Hate Crimes Law Archived 2013-05-04 at the Wayback Machine, accessed June 6, 2013.
- Rosica, Jim (September 4, 2015). "Bill would ban 'conversion therapy' for gay teens". Florida Politics.
- FL H0137 | 2016 | Regular Session
- HB 273: Conversion Therapy
- DCF reinstates protections for LGBT youth Orlando Seninel
- New Poll Shows 71% Of Floridians Support Conversion Therapy Ban For Minors
- 71% of Floridians think conversion therapy for minors should be illegal, bills to prohibit it stalled in Legislature
- "Miami Beach says no more conversion therapy for youths under 18". Miami Herald. June 8, 2016.
- Ramos, Lisann (June 10, 2016). "Miami Beach Bans Conversion Therapy For Minors". Health News Florida.
- 10/13/2016 Regular City Commission Meeting
- City of Miami Commission votes to ban conversion therapy!
- "REGULAR VILLAGE COMMISSION MEETING: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2016" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- West Palm Bans Conversion Therapy
- TOWN OF BAY HARBOR ISLANDS November 14, 2016 AGENDA
- A Unanimous Vote Bans Conversion Therapy in Lake Worth
- Boynton Beach Bans Conversion Therapy On Minors
- As Tampa unanimously passes anti-gay conversion "therapy" ban, St. Pete lays groundwork for its own
- Delray Beach Joins Growing Number of Cities To Ban Conversion Therapy
- Conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth banned in Riviera Beach
- Councilman flips vote, but Wellington bans conversion therapy 3-2
- Oakland Park Bans Conversion Therapy
- Palm Beach County is first county in Florida to ban conversion therapy
- Gainesville leaders ban conversion therapy
- "Broward County bans gay conversion therapy on minors". Local 10. January 9, 2018.
- David Jones (May 28, 2019). "Alachua County Commission votes to ban conversion therapy". WCJB.
- "Should Conversion Therapy be Banned in Sarasota?". March 22, 2018.
- "Judge stops parts of Tampa's 'conversion therapy' ban". WTSP. January 30, 2019.
- PRRI: American Values Atlas 2017
- Explaining commercial surrogacy in Florida