Sobel postpones vote on statewide domestic partnership bill

TALLAHASSEE -- A bill to create a statewide domestic partnership bill has been postponed again.

The culprit this time? A scheduling conflict. At least, that's the official reason.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, the sponsor of the legislation (SB 196) apologized to the groups of LGBT advocates who had come to Tallahassee to support the bill and explained that she had to present another bill in the Senate Education Committee.

But, in truth, a delay was needed to give the bill a better shot at passing.

Of the 10-member committee, there are only four Democrats, who are all expected to vote for the bill. Additionally, at least one Republican, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is expected to vote for it. A 5-5 vote would kill the proposal, but it's still unclear if any other Republicans may vote in favor of it.

What is clear though is that one of the Democrats, Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, was absent because of illness, costing Sobel a "yes" vote. Without her vote, the bill would certainly go down.

The LGBT community had rallied yesterday at the capitol in favor of the legislation and many had turned out to testify for the bill during the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee Tuesday.

This is the second time the bill has been scheduled for a vote.

Last month, after substantial committee debate, Sobel opted to temporarily postpone a vote so she could rewrite her proposal to make it more narrow in scope, specifically enumerating the rights domestic partners would have. Her original version simply said that they would have the rights afforded to married couples under Florida law.