UPDATE (April 30, 2013 - 1:41 P.M.)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Leon County's domestic partnership registry will open on May 1.
In March Leon County Board of Commissioners approved to create the registry. Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley proposed the measure and says it will extend benefits to gay and straight couples; benefits similar to those that married couples get.
Some of the rights extended to Leon County registered domestic partners include:
- Visit each other in the hospital or in a correctional facility in Leon County
- Make health care decisions for a partner who is incapacitated
- Be notified as a family member in an emergency or other situations affecting their partner
- Oversee funeral and burial arrangements for each other
- Take part in the education of a partner's child in Leon County
- Have the right to be designated as a preneed guardian and serve in that capacity if their partner becomes incapacitated
Despite Florida voters approving a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2008, the local measure says it "shall not be construed as recognizing or treating a registered domestic partnership as a marriage."
"The county council finds that there are many individuals who establish and maintain a significant personal and economic relationship with another individual," the ordinance states. "Individual forming such domestic partnership often live in a committed domestic relationship. Domestic partners are often denied certain benefits and rights because there is no established system for such relationships to be registered or recognized.
Right now it's up to local governments to decide whether to create a domestic partnership registry.
Leon County now joins Broward, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Voulsia counties, along with the cities of Gainesville, Key West, Sarasota, Tampa and Tavres in allowing domestic partnership registration.
In a release to WTXL, the registry will not be limited to just Leon County residents.
"For example, an unmarried couple who visits regularly or who seeks health care services here, could sign up and be afforded the rights of registered domestic partners while they are in Leon County," the release said. "Because the registry affidavit includes designations of the other partner as their health care surrogate and agent for making funeral and burial arrangements, it may supersede some provisions of other legal designations or living wills that were executed earlier. In the same way, any living will or other designation properly executed after the partners sign the domestic partnership registration affidavit would supersede the affidavit. As a result, couples may want to seek independent legal counsel on issues regarding living wills and similar designations."
It will cost $50 to register with the Leon County domestic partnership registry, which will be kept by the Leon County Clerk of Court.
Leon County leaders will hold an opening day celebration on Wednesday, May 1 at 8 a.m. in the plaza that leads into the Leon County Clerk of Courts' office at 313 South Calhoun Street.
Click HERE for more information on Leon County's domestic partnership registry.