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Domestic Partnership Registry Gets OK in Pinellas County

Unmarried couples, gay and straight, in Pinellas will be able to register as domestic partners following Tuesday's county commission vote.

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.

Related Coverage:

  • Commissioners Offended By Domestic Registry Comment
  • 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. 

Cecilia January 16, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Dunedin Officials just wanted to see what the back-lash would be before they commit. Much more p/c and politically safe that way......
Michelle Crash January 16, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Its sad to see Dunedin, a community which has always seemed LGBT friendly- especially being home to many LGBT owned businesses, take the "wait and see" approach. This is not a wholly gay issue as well, but since if I recall Florida is a state which recognizes "Common Law" straight couples it has much more impact and benefit for those who at this time cannot legally marry here. It is a step in the right direction, but it would be nice to see Dunedin actively involved in leading the charge.
Julie Ward Bujalski January 16, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Cecilia & Michelle - Thank you for your feedback. But I would like to assure you that it was not a wait and see approach that we took, as claimed in this article. The reasoning we had to promote the county to do this is so that our residents who would take advantage of this would be able to have the ability to utilize the benefits the new registration provides "county-wide" instead of only in their own city. As you know, we have 24 municipalities in Pinellas County. Each city could pass their own registry with their own rules. This could prove very difficult. Therefore, a county-wide ordinance with the same rules would be much more beneficial to our residents.
Katie Dolac January 16, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Thank you, Commissioner. That is a point that deserves clarification.

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