TAMPA GETS DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP LAW - Mitch Perry03/12/04
Gays and other unmarried partners of City employees will be allowed municipal health benefits under an order signed yesterday by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
The move will become effective on January 1st of next year, after the city's benefits enrollment period in October.
Mayor Iorio said the decision was made after months of legal and fiscal analysis (roll tape#1 o.q."a city that cares about our employees")
The decision puts Tampa among the few governmental entities in Florida that offer similar benefits.
Recently, New Jersey became the 5th state to pass a Domestic Partnership Law, and numerous municipalities since the 1980's have passed such legislation.
In Florida, Gainesville, West Palm Beach, Miami Beach, and Broward and Monroe County have enacted such laws.
Nadine Smith is the Executive Director of the Tampa gay rights group, Equality Florida
(roll tape#2 o.q. "in the work place")
The death of a Tampa Lesbian Police Officer - Lois Marrero - in the summer of 2001 - led to a protracted legal battle regarding her partner, Mickie Mashburn, trying to get Marrero's pension benefits, but was ultimately denied.
Mayor Iorio's executive order does NOT deal with pension benefits, since that is considered a state issue. Nadine Smith from Equality Florida acknowledges getting that law changed still has a way to go (roll tape#3 o.q.'intelligent way to respond to an issue")
Two Polls released earlier this week - A state wide Poll done by the St. Petersburg Times AND a national one reported in USA Today, showed that while a majority of Americans are solidly AGAINST same-sex marriage, they now support so called Civil Unions, which provides some but certainly not all the benefits that married couples currently enjoy.......Those polls were radically different than similar polls taken last summer, which showed Civil Unions supported by less than 40% ......
Equality Florida's Nadine Smith says that the conversations brought on by the political earthquake of same sex marriages in San Francisco and other cities, followed by the call for a Constitutional Amendment banning such unions, have forced Americans to realize that gays are no longer "the other"....(roll tape#4 o.q."poll numbers change")
For City of Tampa employees to demonstrate their domestic partnership, they must pendent domestic partnership, they must furnish two of the following:
A joint lease, mortgage or deed of common residence; joint ownership of an automobile, or a regularly used bank account.
Designation of the partner as a beneficiary for life insurance, retirement or deferred compensation.
Designation of the partner as the primary beneficiary of an employee's will, or joint wills. And....- Designation of the partner as holding power of attorney for health care.