Friday, May 11, 2012

Pinellas County could embrace its own domestic partnership registry

Posted by on Fri, May 11, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch suggested a countywide domestic partnership registry in light of three cities mulling over their own ordinances.
  • Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch suggested a countywide domestic partnership registry in light of three cities mulling over their own ordinances.
Just a day after President Obama made his historic declaration standing up for gay marriage rights in an interview with ABC, the St. Petersburg City Council got back to work on its proposed domestic partnership registry. At its meeting yesterday, the council voted to approve a draft of the ordinance and will vote on its final approval within the next month.

Similar to a measure passed in Tampa this past March, the registry would cost unmarried couples — both straight and gay — a small fee and would provide them with the right to visit each other in the hospital and make medical decisions for one another, including end-of-life decisions, as well as funeral arrangements.

Earlier this month, Gulfport passed its own domestic partners registry 4-1 following its first reading at a City Council meeting. The council will vote on a second reading of the ordinance this coming Tuesday, May 15. And last month, the Clearwater City Council discussed the possibility of adopting such a measure and asked city staff to draft an ordinance to be voted on at a future meeting.

With three major Pinellas cities considering — and very likely to pass — legislation that would form their own domestic partnership registries, County Commissioner Ken Welch says it makes more sense to pass a countywide initiative. Welch suggested the ordinance at a County Commission workshop session earlier this month, saying the implementation of a countywide standard would be more practical than having individual cities create their own. And such an ordinance would mean couples registered as domestic partners would be treated the same from city to city throughout the county, also making it easier for health care facilities in the area.

Welch has directed county staff to research similar ordinances in the state and how the establishment of such a law could affect Pinellas. Their findings will be discussed at a future commission meeting.

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