If the Supreme Court decides to leave marriage equality up to the states to decide, will gay couples be concentrated in a few select states while the rest of the U.S. languishes behind in civil rights?
Suze Orman, the financial planning guru, TV host, and HuffPost blogger who lives with her lesbian partner in Fort Lauderdale, recently threatened to take her riches to another state where her relationship is recognized.
“Currently I am a resident of Florida â€¦ and I have substantial wealth and I pay substantial taxes,” Orman said on MSNBC’s “Now With Alex Wagner.”
“I would be more than happy to move to New York or California if I could get married and be recognized on a federal level,” she continued. “Because I want to live in a state that validates me, and I would validate them with my money.”
But not every gay couple will have the means to pick up and move. And if there was a mass exodus of gay couples from states like Florida, what would that do to the already slow progress of the rights movement in those states?
Florida still doesn’t have statewide civil protections on the basis of sexual orientation, doesn’t even recognize domestic partnerships on a statewide level, and just approved adoption by gay parents as recently as 2010.
“Coming to Florida was like stepping back in time 20 years,” John Hooker, who has been with the same partner for 23 years, told HuffPost Live.
“The whole human rights issue here is still so fragile and so vulnerable,” he said, adding that he thinks the state has a “restrictive political climate where people are dishonored, disrespected, and dismissed.”
Although Hooker needs to live in Florida year-round for health reasons, he and his husband must spend at least 183 days a year in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are legal, so that their marriage is recognized.
“I am hoping, wishing and praying that DOMA is overturned,” Orman said on her own show. “Obviously I have a lot at stake here. I have been gay my whole entire life.Â I’ve been in a relationship with KT for 12 years. And I want enjoy the same benefits as everybody else. I want to feel valid 100 percent of the time.”
Florida might be a tad closer to making couples like Suze and KT feel at home.
The state’s 2013 legislation session includes a bill finally granting civil rights protections against discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity, and another that will create a statewide domestic partnership registry.