On the day that the Tampa City Council unanimously approved creating a domestic partnership registry, the St. Petersburg City Council officially took the first step to creating its own.
Thursday, the St. Pete City Council voted unanimously to refer creating the registry to the Public Services & Infrastructure Committee.
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"In my view it’s just the right thing to do," Kornell told the council Thursday. He said if the city could add more equality for its citizens it should do so at any chance it gets.
A domestic partnership registry would allow couples, gay or straight, to register with the city clerk’s office. After paying a small fee, couples would receive a certificate of registry that would allow domestic partners more rights in situations such as child education choices, medical emergencies and end-of-life decisions.
Darden Rice, president of the St. Petersburg League of Women Voters, said that she not only supports the initiative, but also thinks the community as a whole would support it.
In emergency situations, Rice said domestic partners have been discriminated against for years. In that type of situation, whether or not you can legally care for your loved one is not something anyone should have to worry about, Rice said.
"This allows me and couples like me to have a peace of mind," Rice said if the city creates a registry. "Precisely at the point in life when you need peace of mind."
Council member Jim Kennedy said that when the infrastructure committee takes up the issue, the city should explore what kind of ramifications logistically a registry has on the clerk's office.
"I’d like to understand what additional time burdens it will put on the clerk's office. What type of demand would be anticipated," Kennedy said.
Kornell said he has worked with the city's legal office in developing the ordinance before he brought it to council.
Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, said similar registries have worked well in the state of Florida and that the registries would be good for business in St. Pete.
"Small businesses but don’t want to be caught in a bind, (by deciding) who are partners and who are not," Smith said. "The business community supports it because it improves the quality of life of their employees."