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Tampa domestic partnership registry to open June 25

TAMPA — Tampa's domestic partnership registry — the first created in the Tampa Bay area — will open for business June 25.

In announcing the launch Thursday, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he welcomes the opportunity "to ensure that all citizens of the city of Tampa have the same basic rights."

"This is a community that treats everyone with dignity," he said.

Approved by the City Council in April, the registry will be open to unmarried couples, gay or straight.

It recognizes the rights of registered partners to:

• Visit each other in the hospital.

• Make health care decisions for a partner who is incapacitated.

• Be notified as a family member in an emergency affecting their partner.

• Oversee funeral and burial arrangements for each other.

• Take part in the education of a partner's child.

The registry will not be limited to Tampa residents. Any unmarried couple can sign up, though both partners must do so in person at the same time.

That includes Tampa residents, people living in unincorporated Hillsborough County, those living outside Hillsborough County, even residents of other states. For example, an unmarried couple visiting for the winter could sign up and their names would be entered in the city's registry, which is a public record.

Tampa's registry will be open to couples who are 18 or older, are not married and not related by blood, who live together and consider each other as immediate family.

Starting 9 a.m. June 25, couples can go to the City Clerk's office on the third floor of Old City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd. Registrants can't make an appointment to register. The proposed registration fee is $30.

Through July 6, registration will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting July 9, registration hours will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

When partners come in, they'll have to show a driver's license or other state-issued identification so their signatures can be notarized.

While the registry is open to anyone, regardless of where they live, the catch is that the registry only applies inside Tampa's city limits, according to the city attorney's office. Consequently, it might not be helpful for someone who lives outside Tampa and only seeks health care services outside the city to register in the city.

Similarly, while the idea would be for a school inside Tampa to recognize the registry and allow someone to attend a parent-teacher conference concerning the child of a partner, it wouldn't apply at a school in unincorporated Hillsborough, even though both schools are in the same district, city officials say.

Because the registry affidavit will include a declaration of a health care surrogate and allow partners to make funeral 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 executed after the partners sign the registry affidavit would supersede the affidavit.

As a result, the city attorney's office has said residents may want to seek independent legal counsel on issues regarding living wills and similar designations.

Tampa domestic partnership registry to open June 25 05/24/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:28pm]
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