On Monday, the Orlando City Council
gave final approval to a gay-inclusive domestic partner registry,
The legislation, which won preliminary
approval at a December 5 meeting, will give couples limited rights
such as visiting a partner in a hospital, making health care
decisions for an incapacitated partner and making funeral
arrangements for a partner. The ordinance takes effect on January
12. Unmarried gay and straight couples can record their relationship
at City Hall for a $30 fee.
“This is a historic event for
Orlando, and it is a monumentally important event for our community,”
said Mary Meeks of Equality Florida. “It will be the first time in
our lives that our families are recognized by our government. At
least here in Orlando, our relationships are recognized as real, and
they are valued and they are accepted.”
Opposition to the plan was muted. One
critic argued that the registry circumvented the state's ban on gay
marriage, approved by voters in 2008.
“I hope you will realize you cannot
condone what God condemns,” the Rev. John Butler Book said.
Orlando is following in the footsteps
of several Florida municipalities in enacting the registry, including
the cities of Miami and Gainesville and the counties of Broward,
Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.