On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry and divorce in every State, including Florida. Florida’s longstanding public policy has firmly been against same-sex marriage, but with the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision, Florida’s laws now must give way to the rights of same-sex couples under the United States Constitution.
Ideally, the State of Florida will allow same-sex couples to exercise their rights without complication going forward. However, the State of Florida has not historically favored allowing same-sex couples to marry or the recognition of same-sex marriages, same-sex couples. Since 1977, the Florida Statutes have explicitly prohibited gay marriage and, since 1997, have explicitly prohibited the recognition of same-sex marriages for any purpose. Additionally, in 2008, the Florida Constitution was amended to restrict the definition of marriage to include only a marriage between a man and a woman. Consequently, with same-sex marriages only recently established as a right nationwide, gay Floridians have a period of transition ahead of them while the State deals with rapid change. Same-sex couples should thus be prepared for complications when applying for a marriage license, getting married, attempting to reap the legal benefits of marriage, or obtaining a divorce.