Tampa Council Approves Domestic Partnership Registry

Tampa City Council Chair Pro-Tem Mary Mulhern
Tampa City Council Chair Pro-Tem Mary Mulhern
TAMPA (2012-3-15) -

Tampa City Council voted unanimously Thursday to establish a Domestic Partners Registry. Whether same sex or heterosexual, domestic partners living in Tampa will soon be protected and treated like family when it comes to things like hospital visitations and medical decisions.

“We certainly can fill out forms for health care surrogate and living wills, but a domestic partner registry brings value to the city because it brings value, validity and quality to its residents,” Phyllis Hunt, the senior minister at Metropolitan Community Church, told the council adding that it gave value to her 20-year partnership and Toronto marriage which is not recognized in Florida.

So many people wanted to speak in favor of establishing a Domestic Partners Registry that Tampa City Council extended its time for public comment.

Mary Ruth Kennedy, president of the Tampa Bay Business Guild, told council it will help Tampa attract top talent and high paying jobs.

“We often compete with Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami-Dade for that talent and those jobs,” Kennedy said. “A Domestic Partner Registry simply put us back on an even footing.”

Similar ordinances already have been adopted by Orlando, Gainesville, Key West, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach as well as Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

Before voting, Tampa Councilman Mike Suarez refuted the argument that the ordinance is a slippery slope toward same sex marriage.

“The ordinance itself specifically says that this is not marriage. The city does not have the right legally to say who gets married and who does not get married,” Suarez said. “But, we do have, I think, a moral right to provide the kind of services that people in this city expect.”

Calling it a good business decision, Chairwoman Mary Mulhern said, so far, Tampa City Council has received more than 900 emails and calls in support of the ordinance.

"We didn’t have one, not one, negative comment about this. We didn’t get emails. We didn’t have people calling us," Mulhern said just prior to the council's 5-0 vote in favor. "This community realizes that this is the right thing to do."

The ordinance still requires a final vote which is scheduled April 5th at 9:30 a.m.

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