Leon County Commissioners Approve Domestic Partner Registries

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By: Garin Flowers
March 12, 2013

It was a big day for the Leon County Commission.

They had to vote on several critical topics, including whether or not to approve a domestic partnership registry.

Amanda James at 11
"This is a way for everybody to be included in having a few simple rights," said Amanda James, with Equality Florida.

A domestic partnership registry is a certification that gives joint partners the authority to make basic life decisions for each other.

With Florida not allowing the marriage of same-sex couples, this was an important battle for many in the LGBT community.

"Having a domestic partnership registry offers me the ability to have a partner and have some of that security, because I don't have any family, I don't have any next of kin," James said.

When it came up for a vote, commissioners voted 7-0 in favor of it passing. The ordinance was introduced by new commissioner Mary Ann Lindley.

"It was a formal recognition by our county that all citizens are respected here," Lindley said.

According to latest census data, there are 7,535 of Leon County households that are unmarried partner households. 873 of those were registered as same-sex couple households.

"I think in ten years this kind of thing wouldn't even be remotely controversial. Ten years ago it was hotly controversial. Our cultures change, times change, the pendulum swings the way people view things," Lindley added.

By: Garin Flowers
March 12, 2013

Tallahassee, Fla. --The Domestic Registry was passed unanimously by all Leon County Commissioners.

By: Matt Galka
March 11, 2013

Tallahassee, Fla. -- Supporters for the "Families First" bill enabling statewide Domestic Partner registries in Florida took to the capitol Monday. Even if the bill doesn't pass, a similar measure will be decided locally in Leon County.

"The registry would cost 50 dollars, it would cost taxpayers nothing, you would pay 50 dollars to register and you would basically have a certification that you are responsible joint partners in basic decisions in life," said Leon County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley.

Lindley proposed the idea which will go to vote on Tuesday. If passed, Leon County would join a handful of other Florida counties and cities in allowing hetero and same-sex couples to be able to make hospital visits to loved ones and make end of life and hospice decisions through the registry. Currently, there is nothing in place protecting these rights.

"I would like the counties to do this in general. I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's a civil right to have these people have protections when they love one another and not be treated like second class citizens when their loved one is dying," said State Senator Eleanor Sobel (D- Hollywood). Sen. Sobel drafted the "Families First" bill.

The Leon County Commission will hear public comments and hold a final vote on domestic partner registries Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. at the Leon County Courthouse.

Press Release: Equality Florida

Survivor denied access to dying partner to speak out before committee hearing on domestic partnership law

Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs to take up Domestic Partnership bill providing limited protections for 400,000+ Florida Families

WHAT: Press Conference to highlight the importance of a hearing on March 12th by the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs on a statewide law providing limited protections for domestic partnerships. Janice Langbehn will speak about how she was denied access to her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, for over eight hours Lisa slipped into a coma and died at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital. Janice's story led to a Presidential Memorandum prohibiting any hospital that receives Federal money from denying a domestic partner access to their loved one.

WHEN: Press conference: Monday March 11, 2013 at 12:30PM

WHERE: Capitol Building, Senate side of the 4th Floor Rotunda

Sen. Eleanor Sobel - Chair, Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs,
Nadine Smith - executive director of Equality Florida,
Janice Langbehn - surviving domestic partner who was denied access to her dying partner, Lisa Pond, at Jackson Memorial Hospital
Mary Meeks - Orlando-based attorney and author of many local domestic partnership ordinances in Florida.
Martha Chumbler, with the law firm Carlton Fields, a founding member of Equality Means Business.

Bi-partisan support for the legislation comes from elected officials across the state, they include: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (D), St Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster (R), Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D), Kissimmee Commissioner Cheryl Grieb (D), Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson (R), Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe (D), Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie (R), Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower (D) and Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith (D). Former elected leaders are weighing in too. Former Orange County Commissioner John Martinez (R), former Gulfport City Council member Bob Worthington (R) and former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti.

Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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