Buckhorn signs domestic partnership ordinance because "it's the right thing to do"

04/13/12 Janelle Irwin
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Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn signed a domestic partnership ordinance this morning that will give un-married couples some of the same rights as those that are married. Now that it’s official, the registry will be open sometime within the next 90 days.

Last week, Tampa City Council unanimously passed the domestic partnership registry. It will allow, among other things, un-married couples who complete the registry to have decision making and visitation privileges for their partner in a medical emergency. Tampa is using a similar ordinance passed in Orlando as a model. And Mayor Buckhorn said it’s a move that is catching on in other places too.

According to the Mayor, not one person has voiced concerns over this measure. Brian Winfield, managing director for Equality Florida said it is not just going to help same sex couples.

The ordinance, initiated by Tampa City Council member Yvonne Capin, gives other rights to partners like access to educational records of a partner’s child. But Winfield said even though it is a positive step for marriage equality, there is still work to do.

In order to grant same-sex couples the same rights as married couples, they would have to get married. Under Florida law, they can’t. Winfield hopes that as more domestic partnership registries pop up across the state it could start the ball rolling on changing that. When asked if he would support changing laws to favor marriage equality, Buckhorn had this to say.

Mayor Buckhorn signed the ordinance one letter at a time – each with a different pen – and then made sure supporters who attended the signing each got a pen. They were all LGBT advocates. One tried to get the Mayor to sign the ordinance with a hot-pink GaYbor pen. That pen was replaced with several blue ones before Buckhorn entered the room.

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