Pinellas begins its domestic partnership registry

04/16/13 Samuel Johnson
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Monday non-married couples in Pinellas were able to sign up for the county’s new domestic partner registry. The four different branches of the Clerk of Courts were prepared for a large influx of registrations, but the rush didn’t occur.

By the end of yesterday, fewer than ten couples had signed up on the first day of countywide registration. Rod Tabler, manager of the Saint Petersburg branch office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, said he wasn’t surprised by the low turnout.

”Basically the clerks office is just assuming the task that the city is already doing. So this isn't a new function that the clerk's office has just started doing. The city has been doing it for several months. So, the big send off has already taken place. We are just assuming duties that the city of Saint Pete currently does.”

The domestic partnership registration is available to adult residents in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Although the debate over marriage equality is complex the registration in Pinellas is simple. Hector Esteves, senior court records specialist at the Tyrone Branch Office, said it’s a straightforward process.

”As far as them filling out the forms and then just having to be present in front of us. So we can swear them in and notarize the document prior to recording it. Or just as simple as the two participants being in here in person; taking the oath and signing in front of us.”

The county employees are professionally prepared for controversial issues because of their past sensitivity training. Alan Hebdon is manager of the Tyrone branch office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

”We receive all types of affidavits and we handle very difficult situations in peoples lives. Whether it be that they are charge with a crime, or it's a wedding or it's a divorce; we get all kinds of very emotionally charged situations as it is right now. And I think the basic training we receive on sensitivity in general, as far as handling customers and dealing with sensitive situations, really applies to this just as equally as it does to those other situations.”

In January the Hillsborough County Commission narrowly rejected a domestic partner registry.

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