TAMPA — Tampa, which created Tampa Bay's first domestic partnership registry, moved Thursday toward recognizing couples who are registered in other communities across the United States.
The City Council instructed its attorneys to draft an ordinance that would allow Tampa to offer equal protection to couples recognized in domestic partner registries outside the city. Council members had considered creating agreements with surrounding municipal governments to recognize each others' registries. But seeing as that process would be "arduous," as member Yvonne Yolie Capin said, the council opted to draft a law allowing Tampa to recognize other registries — regardless of whether those cities reciprocate.
Kate Taylor, a city attorney, asked members if they wanted to limit recognition to governments within a geographic area such as Tampa Bay or Florida, but they called for no geographic limits.
"I would say the United States," Capin said.
"The universe," said Mary Mulhern.
"No limitations," added Harry Cohen.
A draft of an ordinance is scheduled to be reviewed by council members on Sept. 27.
Tampa's domestic partnership registry is open to couples 18 or older, unmarried and not related by blood, who live together and consider each other to be immediate family. Registered domestic partners each have rights historically recognized for immediate relatives: Being notified that a partner has been in an accident, visiting each other in the hospital, making medical decisions for a partner who cannot do so, and making funeral arrangements for each other.
St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Gulfport are other Tampa Bay communities that have also approved registries.
Justin George can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3368.