Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A city progresses, but can a county?

Every now and then, government does good. There, I said it.

Tampa just voted in an ordinance that says if you are hurt, sick or dying, your significant other can be informed, at your side and empowered to make decisions. And here's the remarkable part: This means unmarried couples, gay and straight.

The city's domestic partner registry will soon spell out these rights for hospitals, funeral homes and other places that might not automatically accept unmarried partners as family, or when there is a conflict within a family about who should and shouldn't be there. It happens.

And wonder of wonders, as this played out before the City Council, there were no promises of hellfire and damnation, no Them vs. Us. It was uncontroversial, unopposed and unanimous — though not unemotional, when you count the citizens who sounded genuinely proud.

There's more: St. Petersburg is moving similarly forward. Gulfport is talking about it. It's already a done deal in Orlando, Gainesville, West Palm Beach and Key West, as well as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

And in Hillsborough, the county in which Tampa sits?

(Sound of screeching brakes.)

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner says that he's reviewing what Tampa just accomplished and that it's an important issue the county should address. Do not expect the same smooth sailing in a place where a ban on any county display of gay pride, even some books set up at a local library, still stands.

Now here's an interesting twist when it comes to the city and the county. Talk about inclusive: Unmarried couples living outside the Tampa city limits in Hillsborough County can soon also register at City Hall for those same worst-case protections.

This means someone from, say, Sun City Center would be covered if he ended up at Tampa General Hospital, which routinely flies in critically sick and injured people from all over. Snowbirds here from Michigan? Pinellas people who drive to Tampa to work or play? All are welcome — though the ordinance can govern only health care facilities and businesses within the city limits.

It works like this: Once the registry is in place (this summer, if not sooner), people can spell out that they want their partners to be notified in a medical emergency, to be allowed to visit them in a hospital or nursing home, to be authorized to make funeral arrangements, and to be involved in the education of a partner's child. (Imagine, being shut out of your significant other's life at a time like that.)

And here's a bonus: People will be able to electronically access their own registry documents any time on an iPad, computer or phone, since most of us don't carry our important documents in our back pockets in case of emergency. Great idea.

But if you hoped to make history as the first couple registered in Tampa in the name of progress, you might be out of luck. Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione said she and her fiance who have been together 10 years want that spot, and she probably works closer to the city clerk's office than you do.

So here's the news: The other day, government did something sensible. A city took a small, important step that looks a lot like progress. And a place that's accepting is that much more attractive as somewhere to live and work.

Bet that could work out in the county, too.

A city progresses, but can a county? 04/10/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  4. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  5. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]