Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sue Carlton: Domestic partner registries quietly signal progress

Sometimes when we are busy paying attention to the assorted scandals and outrages of the day, there are signs our world might be quietly evolving. Our cities, even.

In Tampa, a registry to allow people who live together to name each other as important players in case of illness or death passed the City Council and was promptly signed by Mayor Bob Buckhorn with nary a ripple. Gulfport and Clearwater, too.

Maybe you're thinking: You need a registry for this? Just because you are half of an unmarried couple, gay or straight, you must state for the record who you want notified if you are hurt or sick, who can visit you in the hospital, and who should be part of your end-of-life decisions and beyond?

Even though it's pretty clear who your significant other is?

Yes. In a world where that kind of basic humanity isn't always automatic when there is no marriage license involved, apparently we do.

St. Petersburg was hot on Tampa's heels last week with a registry of its own, "a no-brainer," Mayor Bill Foster called it.

The cynical among us might say these registries get an easy ride because they benefit not just gay couples but straight ones, too. But I'll take progress in small steps.

Foster is a conservative Christian, but compared with the previous mayor, more supportive of his city's signature gay and lesbian St. Pete Pride event. He attends related events and writes a welcome in the program. He does not, however, sign a city proclamation, mentioning the parade's "very adult theme."

But Foster also says this: "Tampa Bay is better for it, I think, when you're viewed as an inclusive community and when you celebrate your diversity."

Progress? No less than the president of the United States has said officially, out loud and for the world to hear, that he supports gay marriage, as in: letting people marry whom they want to.

But progress can get messy.

Only two of seven Hillsborough County commissioners signed a proclamation to support the GaYbor Days festivities in Ybor City. (Here's your glimpse of one difference between city and county folk: Tampa officials signed without thinking twice.)

Mark Sharpe, a non-signer who considers himself a conservative, nonetheless sent a letter of support to GaYbor business district organizers. This got him accused of playing politics. Maybe he was just trying.

Like other commissioners who declined to proclaim, he later pointed to a GaYbor brochure passed at a commission meeting. It included useful information about the cool business district, some nice pictures of historic Ybor and somebody's really cute dog, and also two apparently naked women making out and a man who had all but lost his skimpy swimsuit. Sharpe told me if he can't take into a school, he can't support it as an elected official. Hard to argue, though it's too bad commissioners got handed any kind of cover for not signing.

Speaking of political reality, here's a dose: Sharpe plans to support a domestic partner registry. But other commissioners are currently up for re-election. Given the three fighting to keep their seats, and a potentially controversial issue in the county, it may have to wait until after election day to have a prayer of passing.

We may progress around here, but no one ever accused us of doing it fast.

Sue Carlton: Domestic partner registries quietly signal progress 06/15/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 8:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle