For the fourth straight year, state Sen. Gary Farmer is putting forward a bill (SB 1010) that seeks to remove references to the terms “husband” and “wife” under Florida law, replacing them with the word “spouse.”
Previous efforts by Farmer and his colleagues in the House dating back to the 2017 Session have failed to get through a single Legislative committee. It’s unclear anything will change this go-round with the Republicans still in control of the Legislature.
Nevertheless, Farmer is moving forward once again to push for the change.
“The Division of Law Revision is directed to prepare a reviser’s bill for the 2021 Regular Session of the Legislature to change the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ to ‘spouse,’ the term ‘husband and wife’ to ‘spouses,’ and the term ‘husband or wife’ to ‘either spouse’ wherever those terms appear in the Florida Statutes,” the proposed measure reads.
Farmer’s bill would also repeal Section 741.212 of Florida Statutes. That section defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.’ It also states unions between same sex couples are not recognized under Florida law.
Technically, that section of the law is now moot. The provision was ruled unconstitutional in 2014. The state appealed the ruling, but that appeal was paused while the Supreme Court reviewed the issue.
In 2015, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges. That landmark decision held that the right to marry is a fundamental right, thus invalidating state-level measures that refused to recognize such unions.
While Section 741.212 holds no power, it remains on the books. Farmer’s bill would remove that section.
Hattersley filed his bill in mid-August, which also repeals Section 741.212. However, it does not explicitly require other portions of the code to replace the terms “husband” and “wife” with the word “spouse.”