TAMPA — The president advocated for gay rights in his inaugural address this week. Some states have gone so far as to allow same-sex couples to wed.
Hillsborough County, commissioners Thursday refused to take the more modest step of granting unmarried couples, gay or straight, the ability to make decisions for a partner who is ill or dying.
Bucking a regional trend, commissioners rejected a proposal to create a domestic partnership registry, something their counterparts in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Pinellas County have already enacted.
On Friday, Equality Florida released the following statement:
(TAMPA) Yesterday, the Hillsborough County Commission voted 4-3 against a countywide Domestic Partner Registry. DP Registries, like the one recently passed in neighboring Pinellas County, allow participants to register their relationships in order to receive a half dozen or so legal protections, including: being notified when a partner has an emergency, gaining access to a partner in the hospital, making medical decisions for a partner who is incapacitated, among other protections.
This is the second time in recent years that commissioners have brought disgrace to Hillsborough County. In 2005, Hillsborough gained national notoriety when a majority of commissioners voted in support of a discriminatory countywide ban on the recognition of gay pride.
“Once again a majority of Hillsborough Commissioners have put prejudice and ignorance ahead of protecting families,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. “We are working with a coalition of organizations who are calling for a town hall meeting in the coming weeks to continue to push for family recognition. Commissioners must understand that we aren't going away. When we responded as a community in 2005, it inspired thousands of fair-minded residents, gay and straight, to take a stand. That community involvement also inspired a guy named Kevin Beckner to run for, and win, a seat on the commission.”
Commissioners Victor Crist, Ken Hagan, Al Higginbotham and Sandra Murman voted, “No” to providing real protections for couples, gay and straight, who are unprotected by marriage laws. DP Registries are common sense measures and have already been passed in communities across the state. Equality Florida expressed its appreciation for Commissioners Mark Sharpe, Kevin Beckner and Les Miller who showed leadership on the issue. Domestic partnership registries
Nadine added, “They are on the wrong side of history and this isn't over. Equality Florida and the ACLU are ready to take a stand. Who's in?”