Living in Florida has been both necessary and terrible. It has been necessarily terrible. For, it is the comparison that will make living in Vermont all the better. I (Mandi) have lived here about twelve years now, my entire adult life included in that time span. Other than the beach (which Daytona is far overrated unless you are looking for loads of people and the ability to drive on) I’ve yet to discover anything fantastic about this area. Florida is known for its mild and down right warm winters but keep in mind it is scalding in the summer. These are just side notes, though. The real problem for us is the system. Florida is one of the least gay-friendly states in America. There are no marriages or civil unions of any kind given or recognized here. In 1997 Florida adopted DOMA and in 2008 passed Amendment 2. The Florida statute is below:
741.212 Marriages between persons of the same sex.–
(1) Marriages between persons of the same sex entered into in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, or relationships between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriages in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, are not recognized for any purpose in this state.
(2) The state, its agencies, and its political subdivisions may not give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any state, territory, possession, or tribe of the United States or of any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location respecting either a marriage or relationship not recognized under subsection (1) or a claim arising from such a marriage or relationship.
(3) For purposes of interpreting any state statute or rule, the term “marriage” means 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.
We cannot adopt children single or coupled as it is illegal:
63.042 Who may be adopted; who may adopt.–
(1) Any person, a minor or an adult, may be adopted.
(2) The following persons may adopt:
(a) A husband and wife jointly;
(b) An unmarried adult; or
(c) A married person without the other spouse joining as a petitioner, if the person to be adopted is not his or her spouse, and if:
1. The other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and consents to the adoption; or
2. The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to consent to the adoption is excused by the court for good cause shown or in the best interest of the child.
(3) No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.
(4) No person eligible under this section shall be prohibited from adopting solely because such person possesses a physical disability or handicap, unless it is determined by the court or adoption entity that such disability or handicap renders such person incapable of serving as an effective parent.
Essentially, if you are two people in a relationship and of the same sex in Florida you cannot live a “normal” life. You can spend a lot of money in lawyer fees in an attempt to gain some of the rights that married people are given automatically. We have done these things and we are tired of it. This was confirmed recently when it came time to change my name. I decided to take Ashley’s last name (because I felt like I was becoming a part of her family more than she was becoming a part of mine) and she will eventually change her middle name to match my last name so we both have the same middle and last name. Screw the hyphen stuff, you sound like a law firm with four names. So, we arrived back in Florida with our marriage certificate and my Social Security card sporting my new name. I was turned away from the local DMV because my marriage certificate was “not a valid name change document,” and was advised to file for a court order to change my name ($400, and not a sure thing). I consulted another DMV and was told that information was incorrect. The policy states that the “name on the driver’s license MUST match the name on the Social Security card,” and that the Social Security card must be changed first. I was even given a written document stating the policy and my name was changed. I would like to assume that the discrepancy was a policy and practice issue and not blatant discrimination, though I’m not optimistic that was the case. I am following up with a letter to the Director of Drivers Licenses and ultimately my problem will be solved by moving.