Unmarried couples, gay and straight, in Pinellas County will be able to register as domestic partners following Tuesday's vote by county commissioners, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The legal recognition will give couples the right to visit each other in the emergency room, make health care decisions for each other in a crisis and, depending on their employers, share health insurance coverage, the Times reports. Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve the registry, with Norm Roche casting the dissenting vote.
The Times story notes that residents of Gulfport, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, where domestic partnership registries are already in place, the planned $50 fee will be reduced. Those residents will only have to pay the difference between their cities' fees and the county's fee.
The law takes effect in 10 days, although officials said it will probably be about 90 days before they are ready to open registration for couples.
Dunedin city leaders did not create a local registry, because they felt a countywide registry would better serve Dunedin residents. They decided they would wait and see what action Pinellas County leaders would take before deciding if Dunedin would need its own registry. The city commission passed a resolution in support of Pinellas' passing of a countywide registry last week.
A previous Patch story explores why the city commission felt the countywide registry would be better for Dunedin residents.
Dunedin residents had plenty to say about the issue recently in comments posted on Patch.
What's your take? Should domestic partners be granted rights that are now only granted to men and women who are married? Did Pinellas County make the right move? Post a comment below.
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- Dunedin Officials Support Domestic Registry for Pinellas
- Pinellas Domestic Registry: What's Dunedin Saying?
Editor's Note: This story was updated Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, as of 3:13 p.m., to clarify information originally reported.