Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Gaily News: Pinellas approves countywide domestic partnership registry

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 10:43 AM

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Pinellas County Commissioners have approved a countywide domestic partnership registry for unmarried couples in a 6-1 vote. The registry extends certain legal protections to both straight and same-sex couples that choose to enter into a domestic partnership. These protections include hospital visitation rights and the ability to make healthcare decisions for one another.

Several cities in the county — St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Gulfport — passed their own domestic partnership laws within the past year. Hillsborough County is also drafting similar legislation.

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Fort Lauderdale) has also introduced a statewide domestic partnership bill, filing it for the March session of the Florida Legislature.

The “Families First” bill (SB 196) would offer unmarried couples protections similar to those now offered by the Pinellas County registry. Sobel has introduced similar bills several times before; but this most recent version of the legislation comes at a time when the gay marriage debate regularly makes national headlines as the Supreme Court mulls over two cases regarding marriage equality.

In an interview with The Maryland Gazette, a Republican delegate in the state assembly candidly discussed his alcoholism and at least partially blames the state’s legalization of gay marriage for causing him to drink. “That betrayal really affected me,” said Don Dwyer. “I was physically ill. You pour your heart into an issue like that and it’s devastating.”

Last August, Dwyer was involved in a boating accident that left a 5-year-old girl with a fractured skull. He admitted to drinking prior to the crash, and his blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit, though he maintains the collision was not his fault.

Tired of the Boy Scouts of America’s exclusionary ways, but still wanting his 7-year-old son to have a scouting experience, a Brooklyn dad decided to form his own, all-inclusive troop. The “5th Brooklyn Scouts” welcomes boys, girls, and those of all sexual orientations. Much like the BSA, this group will focus on community service as well as outdoors and survival skills.

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