Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Giving life partners rights? It's a matter of basic fairness

What a concept — letting people decide for themselves who they want seeing to them in a crisis, next to their hospital beds, getting the call if something terrible happens.

Imagine. Not the government. Not the self-appointed alleged moral leaders. You, me, him, deciding for ourselves.

Well, duh, you're saying. Hasn't this always been so? Hasn't my significant other always been the one allowed to be there for me? The one making decisions if I can't? To take that terrible call in the middle of the night?

Sure, it's pretty much a given, as long as you're a man married to a woman or vice versa.

But how about a couple living together, whether they are straight or gay, which by the way is an increasing and significant element of the American population?

Sorry, but the matter of the rights of your partner in times of crisis can be much less clear.

In a move that sounds suspiciously progressive, the Tampa City Council recently voted on an idea so basic and fair it boggles the brain. With two council members absent, they agreed 5-0 to explore establishing a registry to let unmarried couples make clear their wishes in worst case scenarios.

The city is using as its model a recently established registry in Orlando to give domestic partners basic rights down to making funeral arrangements should one of them die, or taking a role in the education of a partner's child.

And while I'm not in love with the word "registry" — it has the creepy sound of a tool for making sure we know just where They are, whichever They is being demonized at the moment — it is a movement pure at heart.

How could anyone argue against allowing each of us to decide these personal, private and difficult matters ourselves?

Oh, wait. Because when it comes to personal and private — think abortion rights — this is what we do.

So I was surprised to hear from the office of City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin, who proposed the registry, that reaction so far has been largely positive. Emails said things like "proud of my city." One came from a man whose marriage is not recognized here, another about a couple who chose not to marry because of their "current circumstances."

And not a peep from our self-appointed I-Know-What's-Best-For-Everyone crusader David Caton, a former porn addict. (Hey, don't blame me for bringing it up — the man once wrote a book about it.)

This is a surprise, because Caton has in the past been Johnny On The Spot when there was any chance we might be pushing forward in treating gay people pretty much like anyone else.

Then again, Caton and his ilk have been awfully busy of late demonizing Muslims, and really busy cowing Hillsborough County school officials into embarrassing themselves over the nonissue of a Muslim speaker at a high school.

For the record, council member Capin has said she doesn't see the registry as a step toward legalizing same-sex marriage, and the Orlando ordinance is careful to say it's not about "treating a domestic partnership as a marriage."

Okay, but it's a step, a proposal both sensible and sensitive.

Hopefully, a steady-as-she-goes City Council will focus on one thing when they take it up at their March 15 meeting: Not politics, not the same anti-gay chest-pounding we have heard before, just basic fairness that says we each get to decide for ourselves whom we want with us for the worst of it.

Giving life partners rights? It's a matter of basic fairness 03/02/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 2, 2012 7:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: Video shows teens watching, laughing as man drowns

    Accidents

    COCOA — Authorities in Florida say a group of teens watched and laughed as a man drowned in a retention pond last week.

    Jamel Dunn drowned in a retention pond in the city of Cocoa on July 9. Cocoa police say they later discovered a group of teens recorded the 31-year-old's drowning on video. [Florida Today]
  2. As Rubio avoids public settings on health care, disabled Tampa man's story gets attention

    Blogs

    Michael Phillips was hunting demons Monday night when the news broke: The Senate health care bill was dying.

    Michael Phillips at home in Tampa with his mother, Karen Clay
  3. Shark Week 2017: Michael Phelps races a shark and other must-see specials

    Blogs

    It's that time of year again. No, not back to school month or geek convention season -- it's Shark Week.

    For almost 30 years, Discovery Channel has brought a full week of special programs on the toothy underwater predators through Shark Week.
  4. HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton will help lead the Wildcats into the 2017 season. Taken 7-6-17 by Scott Purks
  5. Clearwater Beach driver's roommate thought she could help turn his life around

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — Ryan Michael Stiles wanted to start fresh. Sarah Lynn Wright wanted to help.

    Ryan Michael Stiles, 27, is seen while driving his vehicle on Clearwater Beach Thursday, July 20, 2017. Stiles was stopped on the north end of Caladesi Island after driving up from Clearwater Beach, police said. [Facebook]