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Commission creates domestic partner registry

Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 9:43 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
Osceola County commissioners Monday approved the creation of a Domestic Partnership Registry.
It’s a way for two unmarried adults to verify they are in a relationship residing in the same household that will give them the same rights to make emergency life decisions at places like the hospital, jail or funeral home.
Couples will soon be able to complete a sworn form available at the Clerk’s Office at the courthouse that certifies they meet the requirements of a “domestic partnership relationship” as outlined by the new ordinance.
While same-sex couples are usually considered the beneficiary of such a registry, any unmarried couples will be able to sign up for it in about 90 days, once the Clerk’s Office to set fees if they’re required.
The registration will provide for legal proof of the relationship to allow each partner to receive certain rights, such as the ability to visit in the hospital or jail as family and make emergency medical decisions or have a say in burial details in case of death. These are the same ones traditional married couples receive and likely take for granted.
Commissioner Cheryl Grieb put the wheels in motion for this after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where six Osceola County residents, two of them a gay couple, died.
“There were people in the hospital and their partners couldn’t see them,” she said. “Who but the person closest to you knows your wishes better. It’s not something you talk about with a lot of people.”
As part of the ordinance’s provisions, the two people in a partnership must live together and be at least 18, not related, currently not married or in another civil union and consider themselves a member of the immediate family of their partner.
Each partner must designate the other as their “health care surrogate” family member, and either one can terminate the domestic partnership in writing by notifying the courts.
Grieb said both the cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud have agreed to set up a joint registration system if they also set up a registry.
In the document, county officials said offering domestic partner benefits “is attractive to companies that value diversity and can assist Osceola County in its economic development by attracting companies to locate and make capital investments in the county, and will promote the county’s reputation as a growing, vibrant and diverse community. The provision of domestic partner benefits promotes employee recruitment, employee retention, and employee loyalty. Finally, it will further promote the county’s reputation as a growing, vibrant and diverse community.”
Nothing in this ordinance recognizes a domestic partnership as a marriage.
In the 2010 census, 6.78 million households, or 12 percent of Americans, identified themselves as living in a domestic partnership. According to the city of Orlando, it became the first municipal government to implement such a registry in 2012.