Tampa could extend benefits to domestic partners registered beyond city borders

09/06/12 Janelle Irwin
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At their regular meeting Thursday morning, Tampa city council members said they want to allow people from other cities who are registered as domestic partners to be able to use those benefits in Tampa too.

City council passed a domestic partnership registry in April, but right now it only affects Tampa residents. That’s likely to change on September 27 when Tampa City Council is expected to approve a change to the ordinance that would recognize a registered domestic partnership regardless of where it originated. Assistant City Attorney Kate Taylor said, “That would simply require an amendment to our Domestic Partnership Registry ordinance. I set forth some sample language in my memorandum. That’s the approach taken by most other jurisdictions that have registries up to this point.”

Tampa residents who have registered as domestic partners can only legally use that document within city limits. So, if someone was in a car accident and admitted to a hospital in St. Pete, their partner might not be able to see them or make decisions on their behalf. Taylor said there is a way to make domestic partnerships in other cities interchangeable, but, “that would require an agreement with each jurisdiction that we wanted to have reciprocity with.”

Legal domestic partners are granted some of the same rights as married couples. In addition to hospital visitation and medical decision-making, someone could also participate in their partner’s child’s education. The amendment that will be presented to Tampa city council later this month will include acceptance of registries from across the country. Yvonne Capin, who suggested the original ordinance, said she hopes other cities will follow suit. “Other jurisdictions are looking at that or are either doing that or looking at that,” she said.

Domestic partnership registries have been approved in Gulfport and St. Pete. Clearwater is considering one. Both Tampa and St. Pete based their ordinance on Florida’s first one. That was approved in Orlando in May.

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