Hillsborough County Commissioners to consider a DPR—again

By : Staff Report
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Tampa – Hillsborough County will get a second chance to do things right. On Sept. 17, the Commission is slated to vote—again—on creating a domestic partnership registry for unmarried couples.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner, a Democrat, has placed the item on the agenda.
In January 2013, the measure was introduced by Republican Mark Sharpe, who said the registry was not a way to redefine “traditional marriage.” The registry, he said, is a necessity in the reality of how today’s relationships work.

But despite Sharpe’s support and arguments from Commissioners Kevin Beckner and Les Miller in support of the ordinance, Commissioners Al Higginbotham, Ken Hagan, Sandra Murman and Victor Crist all voted against the measure. It’s a move that has galvanized the LGBT community in Hillsborough.

This time, however, things could end differently now that the primary elections are over.

A majority of residents who addressed the issue of the registry at the 2013 meeting urged commissioners to vote in favor of it. Those who opposed it cited concern over the recognition of same-sex couples and duplicity in the law.

Last year, a large majority of Florida cities, counties and municipalities created domestic partnership registries, which allow unmarried couples — gay and straight — a handful of rights, such as hospital visitation, the ability to make medical decisions for one another and access to each others’ children’s education.

The City of Tampa passed its domestic partnership registry in 2012. It was signed into law by Mayor Bob Buckhorn in March of that year.

The vote is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. at the Hillsborough County Center in downtown Tampa. The public is invited to speak at 9 a.m. on agenda items.

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