Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg domestic registry open for business

ST. PETERSBURG — Amanda Patanow and Lisa Meyers smiled and held hands Wednesday morning while standing near a doorway at City Hall.

As the clock struck 9 a.m., cheers erupted. A city staffer began to call the names of people who signed up for the city's domestic partnership registry.

Patanow, 35, and Meyers, 36, were among the first couples to have their relationship legally recognized by the city. The women, who married three years ago in Massachusetts, can now make life-saving choices for each other.

"We'll now be a part of one household," Patanow said. "It also helps show our 8-year-old daughter that we are a family."

Applause broke out again.

Cameras captured City Council member Steve Kornell, 46, and his partner, Robert Poth III, 28, emerging from an office with a certificate, becoming the first gay couple to have their relationship cemented in the registry.

"Today we have basic rights that we didn't have yesterday," Poth said about their 3-year relationship.

Steven Barefield and his partner of 28 years, Kyu Yamamoto, 53, married earlier this month in New Hampshire. They went to City Hall Wednesday so their relationship also would be recognized in St. Petersburg.

"We don't have to carry around paperwork anymore," said Barefield, 56, a corporate trainer. "It's public record. This has been a long time coming."

The City Council unanimously approved the creation of a domestic partnership registry in June. Enrollment started Wednesday and cost $30.

The registry, modeled after one Tampa approved in March, requires health care facilities to allow any registered domestic partner to visit his or her mate and make care decisions if the partner is incapacitated.

It also allows those partners to direct burials, visit partners at city correctional facilities, participate in the education of their partner's children, to be notified in case of a partner's emergency and to direct their partner's estate during times of duress.

Registries have emerged in Clearwater, Gulfport, Orlando, Gainesville, West Palm Beach, Key West, and Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Following other cities, St. Petersburg is making it clear that domestic partnerships will not be recognized or treated as marriages. In 2008, a wide majority of Florida voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage.

And that's fine with Kurtis Marsh, 47, and his partner, Sünje Schwartz, 35.

"We really don't want to get married," Marsh said. "We have both been there and done that."

The couple has been together for more than three years and only signed up for the registry so they could make critical decisions for each other if the need arises.

"We can now take care of each other," Schwartz said. "I don't want to end up as a ward of the state."

For some, the registry doesn't go far enough.

As Frank Clemente, 50, and Toby Anderson, 58, stood in a corner, Clemente whispered, "Are you happy?"

Anderson nodded his head.

The men have been engaged for four years and yearn for the day they can legally marry in Florida. Although they could exchange vows in other states, they want to do it in St. Petersburg. They believe same-sex marriages will eventually become legal in the Sunshine State. "This is just the first step," said Clemente, a special events designer. "We definitely want to get married."

To celebrate being registered, the men plan to spend a week at the beach.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

Comments
Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

LARGO — At least 12 families leased the same Largo home at the same time and lost as much as $4,300 each in a fraud scheme run by a couple who portrayed themselves as owners of the property, Largo police said.Police learned of the scheme Tuesday afte...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Passenger in Bayshore crash that killed mother and toddler pleads not guilty

Passenger in Bayshore crash that killed mother and toddler pleads not guilty

TAMPA — Tristan Herrin, a passenger in the speeding black Mustang that struck and killed a woman and her young daughter last month as they tried to cross Bayshore Boulevard, renewed his not guilty plea Wednesday to a misdemeanor street racing charge....
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

TAMPA — The driver who was sought in a fatal hit-and-run on Sunday night has turned himself in.Police say Roger Herelle, 33, told detectives Wednesday he was involved in the crash that killed Sally Ann McClellan Webb, 58.Police had had been seeking t...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Thieves have made off with at least five guns after breaking into unlocked vehicles in recent days, police said Wednesday morning.Over the past three days, a group of people have been breaking into unlocked vehicles across the city. Clea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

TAMPA — Police are working to recover a body that was found floating in the water near the Davis Island Sea Basin on Wednesday morning.It is uncertain how the body ended up there, according to police.This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

LAND O’LAKES – A Sarasota developer is proposing to turn a vacant Winn-Dixie store in central Pasco into a Sprouts Farmers Market.Benderson Development filed preliminary plans Monday with Pasco County to redevelop the former Winn-Dixie store at the n...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning will announce their full 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, but the league announced each home opener Wednesday, with Tampa Bay playing host to the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Oct. 6.The Lightning will know their ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.TAMPA’S BERKELEY PREP GRADS LEAD REVOLT AGAINST ONE OF THEIR OWN: KIRSTJEN NIELSENWhen Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen went on national television Monday and dismissed criticism o...
Updated: 2 hours ago