Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Partners registry a step forward in protecting rights

There is room even as the public heatedly debates social issues in an election year for decency and pragmatism to carry the day. That's the case with a measure the Tampa City Council is set to approve this week that would enable unmarried couples to be treated more fairly as they live in committed relationships. And Tampa's good example may be spreading to St. Petersburg, Gulfport and elsewhere as elected officials recognize that domestic registries can provide a cultural and economic competitive advantage.

Tampa's domestic partnership registry would be the first of its kind in Tampa Bay. It would give unmarried adults who consider their significant others as family some rights that married couples already enjoy. Partners would be notified in any emergency, have the right to visit each other in the hospital and make some medical decisions, and be allowed to help raise any children in the home. These are everyday interactions that committed couples have a right to share without any delay, harassment or legal interference.

The measure is a good-faith outcome of a search for ways to preserve dignity and privacy at the local level while avoiding the larger and more explosive debate over legalizing gay marriage. The protections apply to both same-sex and heterosexual couples, and they promise to ease the hardship for thousands during a time of crisis. The measure also marks another important step in the battle against bigotry. Council members did a good job by committing to make real-life improvements for local residents and not an empty political statement.

Tampa's registry would be similar to those in Orlando, Gainesville, West Palm Beach and Key West, as well as Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. And while this would be the first registry of its kind in the bay area, the city of Tampa, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department already offer health benefits to same-sex domestic partners of their employees.

Tampa council members unanimously gave the change preliminary approval last month and a final vote is set for Thursday. The atmosphere is in sharp contrast to the vitriol that critics displayed 10 and 20 years ago when local officials in Hillsborough debated whether to adopt a range of human rights ordinances. Mayor Bob Buckhorn said not a single one of the hundreds of phone calls and emails he received has been in opposition to the measure. "That tells me not only that as a city we have come a long way," Buckhorn said, "but that people see this registry as basic human decency."

This is a long overdue step to recognize basic rights of committed couples regardless of gender, and it should serve as a challenge for other area governments to step up as well.

Comments
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18