Written Testimony in Support for SB-916 “Families First” Bill
My name is Ricci Levy and I offer this written testimony on behalf of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance, a national 501c3 human rights organization.
We ask that this committee support the United States’ commitment to the fundamental human right to family by voting YES for SB-196, sponsored by Senator Eleanor Sobel.
President Barak Obama said, in his speech delivered on October 10, 2009 at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, “I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights [to gay couples].”
The right to family is a human rights issue, and human rights are indivisible and inalienable. It is important to note that the United States has agreed, via international treaty and declaration that every human being has the right to family.
- In 1948, the United States signed and ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 16 of that declaration guarantees the right to family.
- In 1992, the United States ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 23 of that Covenant guarantees the right to family.
- The UN Human Rights Committee General Comment 19 expands on the right to family, especially item 2, which states:
2. The Committee notes that the concept of the family may differ in some respects from State to State, and even from region to region within a State, and that it is therefore not possible to give the concept a standard definition. However, the Committee emphasizes that, when a group of persons is regarded as a family under the legislation and practice of a State, it must be given the protection referred to in article 23. Consequently, States parties should report on how the concept and scope of the family is construed or defined in their own society and legal system. Where diverse concepts of the family, “nuclear” and “extended”, exist within a State, this should be indicated with an explanation of the degree of protection afforded to each. In view of the existence of various forms of family, such as unmarried couples and their children or single parents and their children, States parties should also indicate whether and to what extent such types of family and their members are recognized and protected by domestic law and practice.
- In its General Comment Number 28, the Human Rights Committee further clarifies that, “in giving full effect to the recognition of family in the context of (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) article 23, it is important to accept the concept of the various forms of family…”
The Norman Rockwell family is no longer a model, if, indeed, it ever was or exists at all. Today’s family is as diverse and unique as snowflakes and fingerprints. This bill would honor families as the foundation of a healthy society and would reaffirm and honor the commitment of the United States to this most fundamental human right. This is a bill that would ensure all Floridians access to protections by simplifying the process for providing important legal protections to domestic partners, no matter who they are or where they live in the State of Florida.
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance believes that family matters – all families matter. Indeed, the right to form a family is a fundamental human right. And that is why we ask, again, that the Committee VOTE YES on SB-196.
Ricci J. Levy
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance