As federal laws protect same-sex marriage, Tina Polsky targets state ban on it
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/3/22-Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, right, high-fives students and activists opposed to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill as they protest outside the Senate Chamber, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2008 that banned same-sex marriage.

The same week President Joe Biden signed landmark legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriages, Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky of Boca Raton filed a bill that would strip language out of state law that prohibits same-sex marriage.

The 15-line bill (SB 80) would repeal laws that remain on the books despite the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges that required all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages.

Polsky said she’s filed the same bill three, maybe four times before, but federal action could mean greater momentum, she said. Polsky filed the bill the day after Biden signed the “Respect for Marriage Act” on the South Lawn.

“Now there are at least three bodies that are supreme to the Florida State Legislature that say gay marriage is legal,” she said. “It’s time for this unconstitutional, illegal statute (to come) off the books and say to the LGBTQ community that we support your marriages.”

Polsky expects Rep. Michele Rayner, a St. Petersburg Democrat, to file the same bill in the House, she said.

Just before the 2015 landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized gay marriage, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle struck down the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that voters had approved in 2008. And now comes Tuesday’s bill signing that means the court ruling is enshrined in federal law and not subject to subsequent court rulings that could overturn the right, as the nation saw happening with the landmark law that gave women the right to an abortion up through the second trimester.

Stephen Gaskill, president of Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, was among the more than 5,000 people who gathered on the South Lawn of the White House for Tuesday’s signing.

“Because there was such a large crowd it was really a celebration,” Gaskill said.

The current definition of “marriage” in state law says it’s “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.

That definition remains on the books in several states, Gaskill said.

“It should concern everyone that we have laws on the books that are antiquated and outdated and are never cleaned up,” he said, noting that century-old bans on abortion went into effect in some states after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

But he’s not optimistic the spirit of Tuesday’s gathering will spill over into the state Legislature. He cites laws Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has championed that prevent trans female athletes from competing in sports and more tightly regulate how LGBTQ issues are discussed in schools.

“The … Legislature (is) following right behind the Governor in demonizing and marginalizing the LGBTQ community,” Gaskill said. “So I don’t really see them taking any positive action on our behalf.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Here are some facts

    December 15, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    DeSantis and Florida Republicans embrace old bigoted laws.

    • Boaz

      December 16, 2022 at 3:50 am

      Such hyperbole! Rather than introducing and reintroducing duplicitous or superfluous legislation, lawmakers should consider getting government out of the marriage industry. Marriage is a religious rite, not a civil union of two consenting adults whereby the parties must get permission or a license from the government to cohabitate. If same-sex couples find a church (and, yes, there are churches that will confer the religious rite of marriage onto same-sex couples) and get married, so be it. Why should two consenting adults ever get permission from the government to cohabitate or do myriad of other things applicable to freedom of association? If there is a compelling need for governmental involvement, lawmakers should legislate civil unions for all, even for adult heterosexuals. Marriage should be a private matter where government should have no place.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704